A staggering $48.9 million EXTRA has been budgeted this year for new contracts/contract workers. Almost every government Ministry and Department has hundreds of thousands to multiplied-millions in increases for these new contracts. The highest allocations include Tourism ($6.7 million); Finance ($5.5 million) and the Ministry of Grand Bahama ($1.2 million). In addition to the staggering level of this overall increase, the other major controversy is that since the government has stripped the 2014/2015 Budget of its salary & staffing documents (Personal Emoluments documents), we are unable to know how many new people are being hired for this money, at what salaries and to which positions.
You would recall my initial articles on the removal of these documents, which the government has since admitted to removing. The Personal Emoluments documents that the government deliberately removed from the Budget do not only tell us individual salary figures and the staff count in each Ministry and Department as I highlighted earlier – they also outline the specific Public Service job title of every single employee (along with their pay-grade categories) so that we know what the employees are hired to do. Now that the government has removed these documents from the Bahamian people’s Budget, the Parliament and the Bahamian people can no longer track this information, which means we do not know what $48.9 million worth of new contract workers are being hired to do. AND WITH THE DOCUMENTS GONE, WE ALSO CANNOT KNOW IF PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY EVEN BEING HIRED AT ALL IN CERTAIN AREAS, OR WHETHER THE INCREASES IN FUNDS ARE JUST SLUSH FUNDS THAT THE GOVERNMENT CAN GO IN AND TAKE TO USE FOR OTHER THINGS.
As I told a government Minister this holiday weekend on Facebook, a politician’s “word” on what they are or are not doing with the Budget is useless. The documents they removed answer such questions. We do not need or have to rely on a politician’s word about how our tax dollars are specifically being spent – PUT OUR INFORMATION BACK THAT WAS REMOVED FROM OUR BUDGET SO WE CAN SEE THOSE DETAILS FOR OURSELVES.
POLICE FORCE OFFICERS – A major change in contract worker allocations exists for the Royal Bahamas Police Force in this budget, where the salaries of permanent and pensionable officers DECREASES by over $17 million, but the amount for contract workers INCREASES by over $16 million. Does this mean that officers who would have either retired or been fired from the Force are being brought back in on contract, which may account for the closeness in the two sets of figures? If so, WHY? Now that the Emoluments documents are gone, critical information like this is now hidden from the Parliament and the Bahamian people.
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