Categorized | International, Local, News, Regional

Unfilled vacancies in Government – difficulty to attract and budget constraints

By Bennette Roach

The Department for International Development (DFID) team who visited Montserrat, between January 12 – 19, while briefing the press on the budget discussions on January 19, 2012, had said, “The reduction in domestic revenue has been accommodated by the Government of Montserrat (GoM) by constraining expenditure. This has largely come from unfilled vacancies across the civil service…”

Dr. Kato Kimbugwe, local DFID representative firstly explained about the ‘unfilled vacancies’ in a later press conference when he was guest on the Governor’s press conference the following week on Jan. 25.

He said: “What has actually happened, certain posts within government of Montserrat where the government has found it difficult to attract people to fill those posts both regionally…if Montserrat wants to attract them they may have to pay significant premium and that’s within the constraints of the existing budget.”

He was asked if this did not create a problem for the management within the public service. He responded. “…one of the answers particularly when you say this is a critical problem, if you look at the strategic growth plan the infrastructure that is supposed to be going to facilitate growth, these are key positions just the three of them picked out that need to be filled. What we’ve discussed with government of Montserrat this week is to try and implement a TC (technical cooperation) budget that will support government of Montserrat in  trying to fill these critical key posts that are vital for one the implementation of the strategic growth fund,” he said, adding also in insuring government of Montserrat has the capacity in-house within the government itself to be able to deliver on this whole range of options that they have outlined in terms of their policy in the policy frame up that they have got.”

He offered in his response what he thought could be a factor in the difficulty in attracting persons to fill the posts. “…maybe because of the salary scales; but also because very many people in the region don’t tend to see Montserrat as their first option given these significant positions; there is allot of work out there and they are in demand…”

I asked the DFID rep whether there was any correlation between the often-mentioned reduction of workers in the public service and the unfilled posts. He responded. “When we look at the total number staffing numbers in government of Montserrat normally the figures they give us (during budget talks) include these key vacancies that haven’t been filled. It makes no sense whatsoever to give us a lower figure and then say we’re not going to reduce or we’re trying to reduce staff number across the board and yet those critical posts have to be filled so the figures that we get from them. Roughly about  nine hundred and something include those unfilled vacancies.”

He explained further. “The recent process of rationalization that the Human Resources (HR) department is currently undertaking with every government department…to look at whether or not do you really still need to fill these posts? Or can you reassign individuals within other government departments to come in and fill some of those positions?” He added, “We know the key strategic ones will still need to be filled.”

“But,” he said, “is it a case for either getting rid of that vacancy completely and either using technology or adopting better ways of doing things that would then allow you to essentially not have to fill that post and let that go?”

He then invited the Governor to further address the issue, but gave the position that many observers including ourselves have expressed time and time again. “…as well I think we had this discussion last week where I accept that when it comes to this rationalization exercise within government of Montserrat it’s really difficult for you to have any sort of redundancy  plan in place given that you don’t have an alternative sector where these people could go where the opportunities are.”

He went on to touch on another question which followed from his response about alternative work in the private sector. “That’s why this strategic growth plan is so critical because what it does it creates those opportunities and it creates a vibrant private sector that then can offer an alternative…”

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By Bennette Roach

The Department for International Development (DFID) team who visited Montserrat, between January 12 – 19, while briefing the press on the budget discussions on January 19, 2012, had said, “The reduction in domestic revenue has been accommodated by the Government of Montserrat (GoM) by constraining expenditure. This has largely come from unfilled vacancies across the civil service…”

Dr. Kato Kimbugwe, local DFID representative firstly explained about the ‘unfilled vacancies’ in a later press conference when he was guest on the Governor’s press conference the following week on Jan. 25.

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He said: “What has actually happened, certain posts within government of Montserrat where the government has found it difficult to attract people to fill those posts both regionally…if Montserrat wants to attract them they may have to pay significant premium and that’s within the constraints of the existing budget.”

He was asked if this did not create a problem for the management within the public service. He responded. “…one of the answers particularly when you say this is a critical problem, if you look at the strategic growth plan the infrastructure that is supposed to be going to facilitate growth, these are key positions just the three of them picked out that need to be filled. What we’ve discussed with government of Montserrat this week is to try and implement a TC (technical cooperation) budget that will support government of Montserrat in  trying to fill these critical key posts that are vital for one the implementation of the strategic growth fund,” he said, adding also in insuring government of Montserrat has the capacity in-house within the government itself to be able to deliver on this whole range of options that they have outlined in terms of their policy in the policy frame up that they have got.”

He offered in his response what he thought could be a factor in the difficulty in attracting persons to fill the posts. “…maybe because of the salary scales; but also because very many people in the region don’t tend to see Montserrat as their first option given these significant positions; there is allot of work out there and they are in demand…”

I asked the DFID rep whether there was any correlation between the often-mentioned reduction of workers in the public service and the unfilled posts. He responded. “When we look at the total number staffing numbers in government of Montserrat normally the figures they give us (during budget talks) include these key vacancies that haven’t been filled. It makes no sense whatsoever to give us a lower figure and then say we’re not going to reduce or we’re trying to reduce staff number across the board and yet those critical posts have to be filled so the figures that we get from them. Roughly about  nine hundred and something include those unfilled vacancies.”

He explained further. “The recent process of rationalization that the Human Resources (HR) department is currently undertaking with every government department…to look at whether or not do you really still need to fill these posts? Or can you reassign individuals within other government departments to come in and fill some of those positions?” He added, “We know the key strategic ones will still need to be filled.”

“But,” he said, “is it a case for either getting rid of that vacancy completely and either using technology or adopting better ways of doing things that would then allow you to essentially not have to fill that post and let that go?”

He then invited the Governor to further address the issue, but gave the position that many observers including ourselves have expressed time and time again. “…as well I think we had this discussion last week where I accept that when it comes to this rationalization exercise within government of Montserrat it’s really difficult for you to have any sort of redundancy  plan in place given that you don’t have an alternative sector where these people could go where the opportunities are.”

He went on to touch on another question which followed from his response about alternative work in the private sector. “That’s why this strategic growth plan is so critical because what it does it creates those opportunities and it creates a vibrant private sector that then can offer an alternative…”