The Government will create 102 new positions in the public service next year, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announced this week while presenting the Estimates of Income and Expenditure for 2014.
“And Honourable Members may say on the face of it, this may appear as though we are adding unduly to an already heavy expenditure on salaries. But I want to assure honourable members that these positions are absolutely necessary and desirable,” he told lawmakers.
Salaries and wages account for EC$271.4 million of the EC$911.57 million Estimates that Parliament approved around 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Gonsalves said five positions — one senior executive officer and four junior clerks — will be created at the Registry Department.
The positions are to support the implementation of the multi-purpose ID service.
“Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, those posts would be financed substantially through the services which are being provided by the multi-purpose ID,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.
At the Ministry of National Security, Airports and Seaports, which Gonsalves also head, 90 new positions will be established.
The Police Force will receive 48 additional constables to provide security at the Port, the Port Police service having been disbanded earlier this year.
Gonsalves said Port Authority will pay these new staff some EC$500,000 annually.
Of the 83 former Port Police officers, 12 were recruited by the Police Force and 25 were re-employed by the Port Authority in various positions. The others who are interested in training have been and will continue to receive training by the Port “to see where they can be allocated,” Gonsalves said.
Further, 12 posts have been established to staff the newly constructed Coast Guard Base in Canouan in the Southern Grenadines.
“Canouan is the soft underbelly. We have to strengthen that for all security purposes and also for tourism security,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security.
The 12 new positions comprise one sub-lieutenant, two chief petty officers, two petty officers, three leading seamen, and four able seamen.
The Fire Department is being enhanced by 30 additional positions so that adequate fire safety services can be delivered at the Argyle international airport, slated to be completed next year.
“Mr. Speaker, these officers will have to be recruited on a timely basis because they will have to undergo the requisite training in relation to the equipment to be used,” Gonsalves said.
The new positions comprise one superintendent of police, one inspector of police, two station sergeants, two sergeants, four corporals, and 20 constables.
At the Ministry of Education, four technicians will be employed to provide computer repair services to the one laptop per student initiative and other information communication technology programmes.
At the Customs and Excess and Inland Revenue Departments, the information technology functions are being bolstered with the addition of two systems administrators.
“Hopefully, that will make the Customs and Inland Revenue more efficient and more competitive and will produce better results.”
The Estimates were approved amidst a suggestion by Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, that the Budget is being inflated ahead of general elections, constitutionally due in 2015.
The Estimates represents a 14.1 per cent increase over the approved Budget for 2013, and Gonsalves, said the increase is due to a 45.5 per cent hike in capital expenditure, largely because of spending on the EC$652 million Argyle airport.