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.”