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Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves speaking during the estimates debate on Dec. 19, 2023.
Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves speaking during the estimates debate on Dec. 19, 2023.
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The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is hoping to build over 350 houses over the next two years, and is therefore bolstering the staff of the Ministry of Housing.

These new staff positions were among several that will be included in the EC$1.6 billion budget for 2024 that Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves is slated to present to Parliament for approval on Jan. 8, 2024.

On Dec. 20, Parliament approved the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, paving the way for the presentation of the budget.

He said that to cater for the workload of the “ambitious housing programme” and to ensure that projects are completed in a timely manner, four new positions, namely a building assistant, two clerks and a driver, have been created under the Housing and Informal Settlement Programme.

The Ministry of Education has added an education officer 3 and a senior education officer to enhance supervision at the secondary school level.

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“This is such an important issue,” Gonsalves said, adding that at least from a test results perspective, students doing secondary and primary school exit examinations were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So, some additional support at the secondary school level is needed there,” Gonsalves said.

He said that a legal assistant and a senior clerk were added to the Ministry of Legal Affairs to provide further administrative support to that ministry.

Gonsalves said nine positions have been created under the autonomous departments.

“Three of these are required to staff the Registry and High Court to prepare it for the operation of the new Civil Registry Management Information System – CRIMS,” he told lawmakers.

The finance minister said that CRIMS is expected to provide for electronic searches of the land registry to further enhance the process of completing all land transactions.

“This is a very important initiative that we will discuss further in the budget debate,” he told Parliament, adding that the posts include a coordinator, a systems administrator and a computer programmer 1.

He said that the Family Court will see the addition of a counsellor and a court clerk.

The Personnel Department was credited with an assistant secretary and an administrative assistant to strengthen the administrative functions of that department.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (National Prosecutorial Services) and the Commercial and Intellectual Property Office will each be assigned a cleric and a compliance officer.

Gonsalves said that the airport administration program will be added to the Office of the Prime Minister.

Therefore, the programme’s human resource capacity was strengthened with the addition of four new posts, made up of one chief technical officer, a project officer 1, an assistant secretary and a clerk.

The Office of the Prime Minister will also see the addition of a Supportive Education and Training programme coordinator and a junior clerk to improve the administration of the office.

The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Information Technology will see the creation of 12 positions.

“Five of these are required to bolster the staff of the Inland Revenue Department. The department has a new office and is trying to improve efficiency,” Gonsalves said, of the department which relocated to the former Browne’s Building next to Star Garage on Grenville Street, Kingstown earlier this year.

The finance minister said a new level of services will be provided to the public via the addition of an evaluations officer 3, a program analyst, a facilitation officer and a client relations officer.

The department will also get an international tax compliance officer, Gonsalves said, adding that this is “increasingly becoming an issue with some of the businesses as they begin to do work beyond our borders”.

The Customs and Excise Department will get an additional assistant comptroller and the Information Technology Services Division will be provided with three staff in the persons of a software developer, a graphics art professional and a driver.

In the Ministry of Finance, three new positions will be created under the budget Research and Policy Programme, which has three operational units — the finance management unit, the Economic Research and Policy unit and the debt and Investment Management Unit.

Each of those units have been credited with one staff member each, namely a budget analyst one a debt analyst 2 and a business development officer.

Gonsalves said 20 posts have been created within the Ministry of Health and the Environment, 17 of which have been added under Community Health Services, which will have 15 more junior clerk positions.

“We’re all well aware of the burden and threat of NCDs non communicable diseases and their potential to undermine social and economic development. Consequently, these new staff members will be equipped with the required devices to capture the data needed to present the levels and trends of non-communicable diseases by age and gender, as well as some other demographic criteria so that the ministry can better gauge and respond to the impact of these non-communicable diseases on the society,” Gonsalves said.

He further said two interns have been added on the dental services as the government is expanding the provision of dental care across the health system.

“And the other three posts are an executive officer, a senior technical officer, and one senior clerk under hospital services.”

Ministry of National Security will get 31 new positions, 22 of which are prison officers of various ranks.

They number are made up of one chief prison officer, two senior prison officers, four first class prison officers and 15 prison officers.

Five new immigration officer posts have been allocated to the Passport and Immigration Department to properly service the Argyle International Airport and other airports as volumes increased there, Gonsalves said.

The National Commission on Crime Prevention has been credited with one post of crime prevention officer.

Meteorological Services will see the addition of two meteorological assistants to help in the collection and analysis of climate data, which Gonsalves noted is an increasingly important field “in our vulnerable small island state.

“It is important to note that there is a demand for climate related data for many other projects that we now engage in the analysis and tracking of national trends. These data are also critical to NEMO … and they’re critical for the designing of resilient infrastructure.”

The Electoral office will get one new post of photographer 2, with Gonsalves assuming that this is because the Government will be making some new ID cards in the near future.

“The Ministry of Urban Development has been granted a senior project officer and an urban planner mainly to build up implementation capacity in that ministry.

The Ministry of Tourism has been allocated six positions, five of which are under the Civil Aviation Department as they continue to commit to fulfilling their regulatory obligations to the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority and the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO.

 These positions are a manager, a safety officer, one facilitation officer, and two airport cadets.

The other post is a senior executive officer under the Policy Planning and Administration Programme.