March 16, 2017
THE PUBLIC SECTOR IS GOING DIGITAL TO SOLVE
PENSION AND GRATUITY PROBLEMS
I wish to respond to statements by President of the Public Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (PSA), Watson Duke who called for reform of the pension system for public servants.
As the Minister of Public Administration and Communications, my responsibility includes public service modernization, transformation and ICT development. The Government also supports the view and is driving the process towards becoming a digital economy in order to reduce inefficiency and improve overall quality of life for citizens, including the members represented by the PSA who have been made to wait too long for their just due.
The Auditor General’s Report for 2015 which highlighted pension and leave and gratuity payments, pointed to delays which are often due to discrepancies in the documents/computations submitted. It has since been recommended that a proper IHRIS system would solve this problem.
In this regard, I would like to reassure you that the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications is pursuing a number of ICT initiatives that should bring relief to our pensioners and retirees. As of June 2016, the Ministry convened a working group of national ICT experts to among other things, chart a course which emphasizes meaningful ICT usage and uptake. E-Government is one of the key areas to be addressed in the plan. Moreover, it is hoped that the new ICT Plan will lay the road map for the transition from a transactional to a transformational e-Government.
Since assuming the portfolio, I have also re-convened the E-Business Roundtable, a public private partnership (PPP) of ICT professionals to advance our ICT agenda; a key pillar of that plan is the development of an integrated suite of government services. In 2015, the Ministry also spearheaded a Technical Training Session to address this issue. Legislatively, amendments will be tabled to both the Data Protection Act and the Electronic Transactions Act.
The Ministry of Public Administration and Communications is also working with the Service Commission to ensure it can properly address the needs of Government Ministries and Departments. Moreover, I have committed to do all that is necessary, even in our current economic situation, to properly resource the public service.
I recognize that with the expansion of the public service in the 1970s and 1980s, and an estimated 38,000 pensioners with an additional 500 added every month (data as of 2015) awaiting pensions and gratuity, that the core competencies for the public sector of the 21st century must differ from that which obtained in the past. It is because of this the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications also negotiated a deal with Microsoft to arrive at a single Microsoft Enterprise Agreement that will benefit the entire public service and provide additional Microsoft services to all public servants at concessionary rates. As the Minister of Public Administration and Communications, I wish to give the assurance that this Government is doing all in its power to ensure that all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies will be able to leverage ICTs to make the problems experienced by public servants a thing of the past.