Public service

Cuts in the public service in sight? Governor says change is inevitable

Governor John Rankin. (GIS photo)

The issue of downsizing the civil service as a means of alleviating the enormous strain on public finances has long been a matter of weight for consecutive BVI administrations.

Currently, more than 3,000 people make up the public servant category in the BVI workforce, and despite a severe economic downturn two years ago during the outbreak of COVID-19, the government refused to make cuts to the sector.

With a decision looming over a possible partial suspension of the BVI constitution and direct rule by the United Kingdom (UK) through the Governor, concerns may have only intensified at this point. regard.

But Gov. John Rankin – while saying he wants an effective public service working on the right things – hasn’t sought to take any hits or assuage those concerns while addressing the issue recently.

“Change is inevitable and I’m not going to predict exactly how big the public service will be five years from now,” the Governor said in a recent interview.

The governor noted that while there are plenty of decent and hardworking civil servants, he wants them to focus on the areas that are most effective for the people of BVI.

Problems have also arisen in recent months over prolonged delays in processing work permits at the Labor Department – ​​a deception that officials have largely blamed on a shortage of human resources, inadequate technology and policy. poorly deployed government.

Flexibility and adaptability required

When asked if there would be a redistribution of human resources within the public service, Governor Rankin responded by emphasizing the need for adaptability.

“In a changing world, civil servants, like everyone else, need to be adaptable and flexible and sometimes it is necessary to assign staff to particular priority areas,” the governor added.

He said Deputy Governor David Archer Jr remains equally committed to achieving that flexibility and redistributing resources as needed.

“I also believe that having clear policies in place, ensuring that work permit decisions are made on the basis of correct and appropriate criteria – without inappropriate interference in the granting of work permits but granted in accordance with the law – will allow public servants to know and understand the rules under which they work,” the governor said.

He continued: “If we can put both in place, I think we can improve the work permit system like in other areas.”

Governor Rankin indicated that the matter is partly a matter of public service on the one hand, and on the other hand of ensuring that the criteria agreed by ministers are clear and that staff know that they are entitled to work objectively within the framework of these criteria.

As recently as November last year, the the government has announced its intention to inject up to $7 million into four priority areas of the Public Service Transformation Initiative.

This initiative would have focused on areas such as good governance, digital transformation of government, improved customer service and public administration/human resource management.

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