By Sonje Greenidge, Journalist
Updated 7:05 PM AST, Wed Jun 22, 2022
(PLTM) - There have been persistent anxieties widely expressed around the possibility of public service cuts given the current political climate that has given rise to the recently formed Government of National Unity.
These concerns have been exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic, which resulted in a major negative impact on Government revenue. More recently, discussions about the suspension of the constitution have again stirred public discourse on the issue.
Further, since the public sector is undergoing significant reform and the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report are being implemented, tensions have been renewed. However, Premier and Minster of Finance Dr. Natalio Wheatley told BVI Platinum News that there have been no ongoing discussions about job cuts either with the United Kingdom (UK) or internally.
The public service accounts for a significant portion of the Territory's labour market, employing approximately 3,000 persons. Even with the intensifying global economic implications, the current National Unity Government and the former Virgin Islands Party Government administrations have sought to ensure government workers remain employed.
Instead, Dr. Wheatley stated that emphasis has been placed on public sector transformation. He also indicated that the Deputy Governor has been tasked with this transformation.
However, Governor John Rankin did not speak definitively about whether there are currently any plans to downsize the public service.
In a recent interview he stated that while he cannot predict the size of the public service in future years, it must prioritize effectiveness and adaptability.
Governor Rankin also stated that: “I certainly want an efficient public service and I want public officers working in the most effective way possible. I also want the public service working on the right things and it has not been the right things where public monies have been expended and not to the public benefit.”
Governor Rankin explained that this was due to policy decisions made by successive governments.
As it relates to public sector transformation, the 2021 Annual Report from the Deputy Governor’s Office stated, “The annual strategic plan and the Performance Monitoring Framework (2020-2023) have ensured the Governor’s Group’s ability to fully carry out its mandate with key initiatives based on promoting technological innovation, improving communication, enhancing skills and competencies, improving communication, enhancing skills and competencies.”
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