Government used rent money to pay public servants

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Public Administration Minister Allyson West – File photo/Sureash Cholai

Minister of Public Administration Allyson West has said the government used money allocated for rental accommodations to pay salaries and wages for public servants in 2021.

West was speaking during the Standing Finance Committee, second session of parliament on Friday.

The government debated an overall increase of $8,640,671 for the personnel department.

West said because the overall allocation for 2021 included salaries and wages for public servants, a transfer from rental accommodations and other expenses was made to ensure salaries were paid.

She said at the end of the year there was a shortfall that amounted to $2,192,433. She also said the allocation requested by the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) for the year was $7.6 million but the department only received $7 million.

West said other expenses included license fees of $67,800, other contracted services of $1,340,53, and janitorial services under recurrent expenditure of $85,988.

She said job evaluation for civil service in the Public Service Investment Programme (PSIP) amounted to $4,953,912.

She said in addition to the rent lease expenditure for 2021, the government requested the $8.6 million.

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert also said the CPO also reports to his ministry and is currently engaged in work for the ministry including a job evaluation exercise and a health plan for public servants.

He said even though the allocation would be for the ministry of Public Administration, costs for the projects undertaken for the ministry of Finance should be considered.

In a brief phone interview with Newsday on Friday, West said the money owed for rent was paid off at the end of 2021. She said the CPO reached out to the ministry and asked for a mid-year review. “When we realised the shortfall was not addressed, we came to an arrangement and allowed for the settlement (which was) paid by the last financial year.”

She said the rent owed was for four buildings, including three at Alexandra Street, Port of Spain.

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