April 23, 2017
NEW MEASURES TO DEAL WITH PUBLIC SERVICE PENSION PAYMENTS
A suite of new systems will be put in place to ensure public officers are paid their pensions in a timely manner.
The Cabinet approved and confirmed a note which deals with the backlog of pensions in the Public Service and the Government is putting measures in place to ensure this problem does not recur in the future, the Minister of Public Administration and Communications, the Honourable Maxie Cuffie told the Parliament during debate on the Fire Service (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
The Minister who has responsibility for the Public Service said what appeared to be a simple matter is in fact causing pain to many. He said he has received numerous complaints from citizens all across the country about the undue delays and hurdles they face when trying to access their public service pension payments.
In outlining the history of the problem, he said understaffed departments throughout Government Ministries were a major contributory factor. Additionally, public officers who were trained to deal with pension and leave, a specialized field, got promoted leaving behind new officers who were unfamiliar with that area of work.
Minister Cuffie said these issues hampered the process and caused further delays but also influenced the recommendations which are being implemented.
“Based on PMCD (Public Management Consulting Division) recommendations, we will use predominantly contract officers in staffing the pensions departments and giving them one to three year contracts to ensure you have a cadre of officers dedicated who will not be transferred or promoted and leaving the people’s pension in abeyance.”
Minister Cuffie said it was agreed that there will be training, both in house and by the Treasury Division, in the preparation and maintenance of the pension and leave records. This training is aimed at reducing the frequency of errors that are made and which sometimes delays pension payments.
“We will also be training the trainers across the Ministries…we’ve also agreed to develop desktop manuals so that when an officer leaves there will be a system that anybody who takes up the schedule would be able to follow on how to create a pension and leave record and to get quickly up to speed in terms of building it.”
However, he said, the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications (MPAC) recognized that those measures only solve the problems of the past. Therefore, “going forward we’ve been trying to develop the IHRIS (Integrated Human Resource Information System) to try to make it fully workable so that when the time comes, your pension and leave records could be easily accessible to the Comptroller of Accounts…”
“…one of the problems faced by the system is what happened over the last five years. Every time a Ministry was created and dissolved and we had, I think at one point, 33 Ministries… and a lot of public officers spend time chasing down records and they don’t know where their records are… the only way we can trace that is by ensuring the IHRIS system which tracks each and every public servant will be able to show you at the end of the day your records and your pension entitlement,” he explained.
Putting the pension payment delays in the context of the bill, Minister Cuffie said the Fire Service (Amendment) Bill, 2017 will put the Fire Services in line with prisons, teachers, police and all the other officers in the wider public service.
Cuffie made his contribution on April 21st, 2017 in the House of Representatives.