PLP’s expanded Civil Service would shrink under OBA Richards
Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards hopes civil servants would be enticed into a growing private sector under a One Bermuda Alliance Government. Giving more details on his plan to reduce Bermuda’s crippling debt, Mr Richards said his party would allow the Civil Service to get smaller by failing to replace those that retire or quit.
He says the expanding Civil Service under the Progressive Labour Party has contributed to the Island’s financial troubles, with an extra 1,000 civil servants adding up to an extra $75 million a year running costs for Government.
“It’s a big additional burden on the taxpayers,” he said.
“You can never get these things under control if you continue to allow the Civil Service to swell the way it has swelled under the PLP.”
Asked how long it would take to get the Civil Service to a more appropriate size, he replied: “We don’t live in a static world. A lot would depend on how well the private sector is growing.
“If the private sector is growing rapidly that would attract a lot of people away from the Civil Service. I do think surely there are people whose tenure working for government is coming to an end due to retirement.”
At last week’s OBA town hall meeting on finance at St Mary’s Church Hall in Warwick, Mr Richards said his party would reduce the amount Government pays in salaries. He said some people have approached him after reading
The Royal Gazette’s report of the meeting, expressing fears Civil Service jobs would be cut under an OBA Government.
But Mr Richards told this newspaper: “I want to stress that I never advocated cutting the Civil Service.
“The Opposition said we would freeze the Civil Service and allow it to decline by attrition, meaning that as people either retire or leave the Civil Service they don’t get replaced, at least not numerically. That’s our position as far as the size of the Civil Service is concerned.
“Unlike discretionary expenses, once you increase staff like the PLP has you just can’t cut it back without putting hardship on individuals.
“You need to do it carefully because it’s very difficult to reverse if you make errors.”
Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox has previously pledged to reduce the size of the Civil Service through attrition.
On this point, Mr Richards said: “Paula Cox has given a lot of lip service to a lot of things but hasn’t done it. She’s given lip service to cutting back on Government four years in a row but it hasn’t happened. She’s talked the talk but hasn’t walked the walk.
“Even now we have a situation where she’s talking about doing more with less but she increased the number of ministries. Every time you increase the number of ministries, you have more staff, a permanent secretary and assistants and functionaries beneath.
“All kinds of expenses follow from that, from a car for the permanent secretary to stationery with the new ministry’s name on it. It increases their requirement to have office space.
“It’s hard to get costs under control in Government when you are increasing the number of ministries. We certainly would look to consolidate some of those ministries. That would be more sensible. It’s been reverse streamlining in my estimation.”
He said an OBA Government would also try to overhaul Immigration policies he described as “job-killers”, such as term limits and foreign spouse land licences, while unnecessary red tape would be removed.
“One wonders why the economy is dull in Bermuda. It’s because of the policies of this Government, job-killing policies and unwelcomeness to guest workers that are creating jobs for Bermudians,” he said.
“Government seems to have lost total focus on where Bermudians’ bread and butter comes from. That’s inexcusable. Government’s been too busy pandering to sections of the community instead of doing its job and looking out for the welfare of the community.
“It’s been pandering to the union; the union seems to have the Government wrapped around their fingers; pandering to racial divisiveness. Focusing on other things which has not been helpful and caused the economy to decline here. They have basically been job-killers.”