By Alexis R. Milan
There is too much wastage in government spending and public money can be spent more efficiently by limiting unnecessary spending in several areas, reveals a Report on Proposed Cost Saving Strategies.
The report, prepared by the Committee to Evaluate and Advise on Cost Saving Measures (CEACS), validated as credible by Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight this week, made headlines for a small portion that revealed the government-owned radio station was paid $569,453 in advertisement costs. GOB later clarified the money was paid out over a three-year period.
Upon further examination, the report reveals much larger problems as it relates to government wastage. According to the report prepared by CEACS, several Boards and committee members receive excessive stipends, which in some cases are as high as some monthly salaries, whether or not the Board meets. The report cited the Income Tax Appeal Board, in which the Chairman is paid $3,000 and two other members are paid $2,000 each per month, as examples.
According to the report, CEACS made attempts to review other Boards to further assess the level of wastage in this aspect but information wasn’t forthcoming, which lead CEACS to assume that there are several other Boards that exist under similar conditions.
The report also noted that over time there has been a considerable increase of Permanently Established (PE) positions being filled under contract instead of permanent appointments through the formal, standard recruitment process or promotion.
According to the report, the increase in employment of contract officers has a negative impact on the Public Service because contracted officers get a higher starting salary and additional benefits that a regular PE officer would not get, including health insurance and an assigned vehicle.
The report also said that such appointments, which are not based on merit demoralizes officers who are qualified for the job and have reasonable expectations for promotion.
According to the CEACS report, rentals of privately-owned buildings for office space is another area of unnecessary and excessive government spending. The report indicated that the government spends over $3 million a year on renting office space, or the equivalent of over $250,000 per month.
The committee recommended that GOB invest in constructing office buildings countrywide to house government offices, which would significantly reduce costs in the longer run.
The report also noted that the government sometimes paid excessive costs for utility bills in government departments and recommended that there be a restructuring of the oversight policy to ensure that utilities were managed responsibly.