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Feb 2, 2022

Minister Espat: Resuming Full Salary for Public Officers Should be Priority

Julius Espat

The national budget has another month or so before it is presented in the House of Representatives, and it will be interesting to see which ministries get an increase and which don’t.  The Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Julius Espat has been critical for years of the skeletal budgets allotted for the oversight bodies such as the Auditor General’s Office and the Integrity Commission.  While he would like to see those budgets increased, he also wants to see public officers get back their ten percent as soon as possible.


Julius Espat, Minister of Housing & Infrastructure Development

“The Auditor General made an incredible report to us about two Cabinet (meetings) ago. She came and gave a detailed analysis of what she found when she was there, and she gave us a draft proposed legislation on how to make sure that the Office of the Auditor General is independent. Cabinet received it extremely well and we have forwarded it to the Attorney General so she will go through the legal parameters to see if what they are proposing are in line with the Constitution, but at that meeting and in public I have been quite vocal that I believe that the Judiciary, which we know should be independent, but also the oversight bodies. That is why I fought for PAC (Public Accounts Commission) to be able to – you see to be independent you do it in various ways. One is financial independence, which is what I believe the Auditor General needs so that she can be able to not have to go beg to a minister to do something, and also have the ability to hire her own staff. That I believe is critical. That is part of the proposed legislation and I support that. Then you have the PAC, another issue to deal with oversight. That one was not a financial aspect initially but it will become also, so have managed to have PAC reconstituted where it’s a bi-cameral (assembly). It is also to hold the hearings in public and then the next step will be to give PAC from similar to what the Auditor General is requesting. The first thing I would clamour for is that the salaries are given back to the people from whom the ten percent was taken from. So, you’re asking me, I would strongly, strongly ask for that to be returned before we do anything else. So if we have to do any kind of negotiation for that to happen, that’s priority in my point of view. I work with public servants that are working extremely hard, overtime, not collecting the overtime, and working with ten percent less and they have given the Ministry of Infrastructure Development their all in 2021 and so it is our responsibility to fight for them to at least get back to the norm and then fight for them to get more. To me that’s the priority.”

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