BVI News

Redeployment: No job cuts when gov’t privatizes departments

Entrance to the Central Administration Complex where the main Government offices were located before the hurricanes.

Reports of potential privatization of government departments are not sitting well with public servants who fear the initiative will result in job cuts.

However, Chairman of the Disaster Recovery Coordination Committee (DRCC), Brodrick Penn has promised that government workers will not lose their jobs when parts of the public sector are privatized.

He said it is more likely that government workers will be transferred to the private sector.

While naming the Fishing Complex as a department that will be privatized, Penn said the entire initiative is being implemented to reduce government’s operating costs during the recovery process.

“The plan mentions it (privatization) because there is a recognition that there are some assets that may work more efficiently … if they were privatized,” Penn explained.

And while speaking specifically on government’s fishing complex, he said: “It is wrong. Government has no right selling fish.”

Penn went on to explain that privatisation is a ‘great opportunity’ for local fisherfolk to create an industry for themselves.

“That is the type of thinking. But, there has been no decision on exactly where those areas [that will be privatised] are, except we agree on the principle that privatizing some of the government’s assets serve the interest of the territory.”

Penn then reiterated that privatization does not mean job losses, but rather a “new way of managing and owning the organization”.

Negotiations to preserve jobs

The DRCC Chairman said when the time comes for privatization, government will negotiate a plan on how to best preserve jobs.

“Some [workers] will no longer be [government] employees but private sector employees, and that is an important discussion that would have to be had before those sort of things can happen,” he reasoned.

Penn made the statement last week at a public consultation on government’s proposed recovery plan for the BVI.

Meanwhile, Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams also sought to allay fears of job cuts, and underscored that there will be fresh job opportunities in areas that are privatized.

“We are not going to turn people loose without knowing what they are going to do. Opportunities will be given for persons to know what will be available and to get them to begin to think of which one of those areas they would like to fall into.”

“If we look around, we will realize that things won’t remain the same. I wouldn’t say that people will lose their jobs, I would think more about redeployment, but with proper training and development,” she stated.

“So, let us begin to think outside the box and look forward to any new opportunities that might be on the horizon.”

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23 Comments

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    • Watcher says:

      Carillion was never a govt department. It is a private contractor like many others in the UK.

      Companies like BT, o2, Cobham, National Grid, Royal Mail, etc were once govt monopolies and are all the better for Maggie Thatchers privatisation of them.

      We could do with a Maggie Thatcher here.

  1. Private? Hmm says:

    Hasn’t the problem been that there are too many Government workers costing too much to continue employing. A private enterprise will be interested in making profit and therefore, why would any investor in their right mind wish to invest in something whereby they have no control over spending on staff, even though the general consensus is that there needs to be staff cuts. The only way that this would create or maintain jobs is if the enterprise is able to grow its business and develop new opportunities, without any red tape. There would be limited opportunities in a territory with the population the size of the Virgin Islands. Therefore, any privatization would need to also have some form of international element to it to make it worth anybody’s while. With respect to the Deputy Governor’s comment, we need to be looking beyond the horizon.

    • Seer says:

      I love your comment! Seems like we’re on the same thinking path; they seem to have an idea of wanting these inefficient government departments to start making profit, and privatization is the way to go. But at the same time assuring staff that there will be no cut, is just not right. The private sector, if that’s what it will actually be will not have five administrative staff doing one job – its costly and makes no sense business wise, so yes, I can see them letting go people. If indeed this does go private, government will not have a say but, if this is another play on the statutory body crap then, it’s a waste of time.

      • Well.. says:

        Chickens coming home to roost! Those who take their jobs seriously and put in real work wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Stay tuned…

    • WOW says:

      Nobody has mentioned the Governments’s unfunded defined benefits pension plan. Not an attreactive part of any privatisation deal. Who wants to take on that liability?

  2. Sam the man says:

    Having experienced privatization once before it was actually good for me and my colleagues – we had to step up and work harder. Sure there were some dead weights that just want to turn up and draw a pay cheque but they were soon found out and given redundancy as most private companies want good hard working and committed staff . This I suggest is long over due for the over staffed,slow,inefficient public departments in the BVI – there are many good people there and the have nothing to fear if they are prepared to step up….

  3. Diaspora says:

    I’m not advocating for anyone loosing their jobs; everyone needs to be able to take care of themselves and their familes. But what is the intent of outsourcing some services? It is to cut cost? Is not labour a significant government expenses? If the intent is not to reduce the number of employees, why not plan, organize, direct, control etc functions to enhance productivity, improve service delivery , reduce cost…….etc? Why not restructure the workforce. It is a binary choice; cannot cut labour cost by maintaining current staffing and outsourcing the same services. Redeploying employees between departments is not cutting cost. It is shifting the chairs around on a sinking ship, ie Titanic.

    If the intent is to cut the overall number of civil servants if the service is bloated, this dance is not going to work. You have the guts to make the tough decision. Stop this two step dance.

    On another, should not the private sector have the choice to hire who they want? Will government force them to take reduction in force employees? Adjustments may be needed but this situation is a SNAFU already. Making up sh…t on the fly is a non starter. Selectively leaking which function will be outsourced is crazy.

    There should be a comprehensive plan developed for streamlining the work force and the plan released at once. Tell me again why should government not sell fish; is not the Fishery a clearing house for fish? Is any fisherman cannot sell their fish because of the Fishery. Is the Fishery losing money? Everything government touches is always F…….up as Hogan’s goat. Carpenters do not perform heart surgery! What happen to the personnel study that was done sometime ago?

  4. Here is my list again. says:

    If we can’t privatize the WHOLE government, here is my initial list with recommendations

    Hospital – yes, ask NHI to pay its bills, needs capital and new management. Fire the Bishop (wait, that was already done).

    Electricity – yes, gov to pay its bill, needs capital. What about renewable energy? Wait until the restoration is complete, give the management gold watches, and then fire the whole lot.

    Water and sewage – yes, needs capital and new management. Fire Biwater – that deal still sucks. Fire Fraser (wait, that was already done, at least 4 times). Fire the investment club.

    Public works / Roads and bridges – yes, needs new management. At the least, get better uniforms for workers. Fire the slapdash asphalt-happy Action Man.

    Ports – yes, needs capital and (much) better management. Fire the (no)Action Man and Tropical.

    Airports – yes, needs capital. Fire the Cuban.
    Community College – yes, needs capital and new management. Fire MVW.

    Tourist Board – yes, needs capital for marketing. Fire Archie.

    Prospect Reef – yes, needs capital. Fire Bolo.

    Wickhams Cay Development Authority – yes, needs capital. Fire the (no)Action Man.

    National Bank – yes, needs capital. Good move with SSB. Fire the Finance Minister (pending) and the Financial Secretary (wait, that was already done).

    Greenhouses – yes, when rebuilt needs capital and(much) better management. Fire the Cuban.

    Fishing Complex – yes, needs capital. Fire the Cuban.

    Multi-sports complex, AO Shirley, Walwyn Brewley parks , Ellis Thomas downs – yes, needs capital and (much) better management. Fire MVW.

    Administration Complex – yes, needs capital. Fire the politicians.

    Festival Committee / Department of Culture – yes, needs (much) better management. Fire MVW.

    And this for starters.

  5. BVI Airways Pilot says:

    I like your list. Only thing I’ll add is to fire the entire National Democratic Party and the cronies benefiting from overpriced contracts. What I meant was bam them from running for another election. This is barter advice cause I don’t plan to give back the $7.2 mil. Hehehehe

  6. Keeping their promise says:

    Of course Government is keeping their promise by not firing the Govt. Employees. But they never said that the Private Sectors won’t fire the non-productive workers. But hey, they’re keeping their promise though.

    • Too true says:

      the many lazy non productive workers will be sweating then – but its about time they were found out and departments ran more efficiently – the only reason time sheets suddenly came in was as an excuse really to justify the delay in paying salaries after the hurricane

  7. WTF says:

    BVI Airport Authority.

  8. Eagle and Buffalo says:

    By any measure the civil service is bloated, cost too much and needs to be streamlined through a reduction in force, ie, a hard hiring freeze, incentives to retire early, vertical and horizontal cut in services, reduction in the number of employees…….etc. Currently, the number of government employees is about 3300. With an approx population of 30,000, this equivates to approximately 9 employees per resident.

    The 2017 estimated budget is $323M; expenditure is $281M. Of this $323M, $120M was earmarked for personnel cost; that is 37% of the budget. That number is too high and needs to be reduced to about 25-30% but the reduction will be challenging. Due to the BVI small size and economy, government by necessary is a major employer. However, it is not unusual for government in small countries, small locales………etc to be major employers.

    True, the size of the civil service is too big and needs to be right sized. Nonetheless, reducing the civil service will be painful and will adversely affect employees and their families. Concern, consideration, sensitivity and compassion should be employed.

    Moreover, the reduction of force is a serious issue and needs to be well planned. A consultant with no dog in the fight should be engaged to review the issue and make recommendations. If not a consultant, then a select committee should be commissioned. Recommendations developed, they should be presented to the Premier who should in turn take the required action, if any. Further, the Reduction in Force initiative should be delinked from the Revovery Plan. A town hall meeting was not the place to discuss an initiative that is still being crafted/fleshed out.

    The transition from the public sector to the private sector will be a challenge. The economy is not robust enough to easily accommodate all the public sector employee displacements.

  9. Eagle and Buffalo says:

    By any measure the civil service is bloated, cost too much and needs to be streamlined through a reduction in force, ie, a hard hiring freeze, incentives to retire early, vertical and horizontal cut in services, reduction in the number of employees…….etc. Currently, the number of government employees is about 3300. With an approx population of 30,000, this equivates to approximately 9 employees per resident.

    The 2017 estimated budget is $323M; expenditure is $281M. Of this $323M, $120M was earmarked for personnel cost; that is 37% of the budget. That number is too high and needs to be reduced to about 25-30% but the reduction will be challenging. Due to the BVI small size and economy, government by necessary is a major employer. However, it is not unusual for government in small countries, small locales………etc to be major employers.

    True, the size of the civil service is too big and needs to be right sized. Nonetheless, reducing the civil service will be painful and will adversely affect employees and their families. Concern, consideration, sensitivity and compassion should be employed.

    Moreover, the reduction of force is a serious issue and needs to be well planned. A consultant with no dog in the fight should be engaged to review the issue and make recommendations. If not a consultant, then a select committee should be commissioned. Recommendations developed, they should be presented to the Premier who should in turn take the required action, if any. Further, the Reduction in Force initiative should be delinked from the Revovery Plan. A town hall meeting was not the place to discuss an initiative that is still being crafted/fleshed out.

    The transition from the public sector to the private sector will be a challenge. The economy is not robust enough to easily accommodate all the public sector employee displacements.

    Let’s lead like eagles, not careen off the cliff like buffaloes.

    • RealPol says:

      Real habla! But it is a done deal and no one listening or care about what the masses think. They do not give a rat’s a** what the masses think. Critical issue but planning, programming and budgeting outsource to one person. Top leadership is abdicating their responsibilities. Top leadership need to lean forward and take charge; that is what they were elected to do. Outsourcing responsibilities still make them responsibilities.

  10. ioi says:

    aka…later gator….It take a natursl disaster to get to this point..hard let down..time to face working for the private sector..ouch that hurts..not me though..ndever work fah gov yet..used to it..welcome to the gang.

  11. ioi says:

    90 percent dead weight..u better be part of the 10 percent.look thing buddy.

  12. Watcher says:

    Having lived in a number of countries around the world there is no doubt in my mind that the government departments of the BVI are the most backward, over manned, generally useless, bureaucratic mess I have encountered. That the people who work there are often pleasant does not mitigate.

    Where are the on line systems common in other places?

    Privatisation has generally worked elsewhere.

    But what we dont need are more Flows. Private companies as useless as govt departments.

  13. Avalon says:

    This has been on the table for a while, looks like a great excuse to hand out contracts and potentially assets to their buddies…

    There is a big difference between privatisation and putting government services out to contract. In either case lower salaries and or less jobs are inevitable. Savings to the tax payer are never passed on and the eventually it will cost you more to satisfy the greed for increased profits.

    • E. Leonard says:

      @Avalon, agree. There is difference between privatizing and outsourcing. Outsourcing ( managed competition) is just contracting out the services. Privatizing is transferring ownership of the assets ( building, equipment, machinery) to a private entity(s) to deliver services, ie, water plant………etc.

      No doubt, there are several advantages to outsourcing, ie, cost reduction, access to infrequently needed skills, meeting surge needs, tapping in to lower prices from larger entities, allow companies to focus on core services…..etc. However, often services are outsourced primarily to save money but in many cases the savings do not materialized.

      Further, often cost creep set in driving up the cost higher than if the services were kept in house. Outsourcing or privatizing services should be carefully studied. It should be carefully put through the discover, debate and decide process. It is a general and good practice to maintain the capacity and capability to perform some of the services in house. Additionally, outsourced services require strong inspection of products/services delivered.

      • Avalon says:

        Thanks E. Leonard. The UK has been dealing with this since the late 80’s, first being rolled out as Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT), now better known as ‘Best Value’. The truth is that taxes never went down but salaries did… The end product to date is less ‘service’ for more and wealthy corporations dictating their agenda to the people…

  14. foolish says:

    this shouldn’t be allowed for Government departments to be privately owned this is foolishness. i smell a rat and something nasty will happen.

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