Since the start of the 2017/2018 Budget process in Parliament, there has been much talk about hundreds of persons hired into the Public Service prior to the General Election and the millions such hiring is said to have cost taxpayers. Ever wonder what we pay to and for current public sector employees and sector retirees?
2017/2018 Budget Allocations:
Salaries & Allowances – $753.5 million
Non-Contributory Pension Payments – $95 million
Health Insurance Premiums – $71.7 million
Gratuities – $33 million
NIB – $31.3 million
Parliamentary Pensions – $1.7 million
This amounts to over $986.2 million, or close to 40% of the total recurrent expenditure budget for 2017/2018. Since the Personal Emoluments pages (itemized salary and staffing pages) that were stripped from the national Budget back in 2014 were not returned in this Budget, we do not know how many public service employees are budgeted to be on payroll.
The Bahamas has a long history of using the public service as a political football, hiring agency and an essential extension of social services. No matter who is in office, supporters clamor for and expect to be given government jobs. Many Bahamians do not understand (or frankly care) that we cannot afford the kind of public spending we are doing. This is because our governments are living in a twisted fantasy. They borrow to pay salaries for a bloated Public Service and have Bahamians believing that all is well since in the public’s minds, the government has the money to pay.
1) Has consideration or will consideration be given to a freeze on non-essential hiring in the Service, especially since the new administration is bemoaning the number of recent hires to the Service?
2) Will the government issue new contracts to persons only given 1-month to 3-month contracts prior to the election? If so, why, since we are supposed to be in “dire” financial straits?
3) What are the specific plans to grow the nation’s economy, to create avenues for employment outside of the public sector?