The Chief Minister has warned that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to the island’s economic recovery, with a review of recruitment across the public sector currently underway in a drive to save money.
Senator John Le Fondré faced multiple questions during yesterday’s States Assembly meeting over whether Ministers had been set a 20% target for cuts within their departments.
This was repeatedly denied, but the Chief Minister warned of difficulties facing the public purse in the months ahead, noting that “everything remains on the table” when it comes to balancing the books.
Pictured: The public purse is bracing itself for a "sheer challenge" in the aftermath of covid-19.
Senator Le Fondré explained that the options for rebalancing public finances open to the Government include:
Responding to a question from Deputy Kirsten Morel, the Chief Minister stated: “At this stage, as I keep reiterating, nothing is off the table. Everything is on the table... It may well be, sir, that we might be talking about differing things versus cuts to services or delivering services in different ways which goes back to the point of more efficient methodology.”
This line of questioning led to a query from Deputy Geoff Southern, who asked if there is currently a recruitment freeze across the Government in light of the crisis.
The Chief Minister replied: “At this stage, all posts that are sought through the States Employment Board [SEB]... go through a process to ensure that post is absolutely necessary at this stage. So, there’s no definitive recruitment freeze at this stage, but we are, where necessary, challenging where a post is necessary.
“There will have been delays in the recruitment process anyway because of the covid-19 crisis and the ability even to recruit generally, to advertise, to have interviews, sir. I suspect that will start to ease if it hasn’t already.”
The nature of this recruitment review was detailed in response to a previous written question from Senator Kristina Moore, who requested a breakdown of which Government recruitment drives were on pause in which departments.
The response, from Senator Le Fondré in his capacity as Chair of the SEB, indicated that the decision to pause certain recruitment activity was taken “due to the significant pressure on cashflow within the government and minimising future commitments to on-going expenditure (through recruitment) until a longer-term impact assessment of the current economic situation on Government resources.”
Pictured: The written question detailed which jobs had been reviewed and the action taken.
It explains that a panel has been put together, made up of senior Government officers, to review and scrutinise any recruitment going forwards.
The breakdown showed that, of 382 jobs:
Another table further clarified why the decision had been taken with reference to each specific job.
Elsewhere in the States sitting, the Chief Minister went on to emphasise the “sheer challenge” facing public finances.
Again stressing that he cannot "give any guarantees", and that "everything is on the table", he added: "My priority, sir, is not to see the provision of frontline services reduced, but we may have to look at how we provide them and we may have to look at the most efficient way of delivering those services.”
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