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$370K hole for 10 public officers on interdiction — Premier

$370K hole for 10 public officers on interdiction — Premier

There are currently 10 public officers who have been interdicted from duty without pay, Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has revealed.
Premier Wheatley was asked the question by Opposition Member Carvin Malone in the House of Assembly (HOA) yesterday of how many civil servants, public officials, and statutory board officers are charged with offences and are currently on probation pending the outcome of judicial proceedings.

According to Premier Wheatley, while on interdiction, these officers are not permitted to report to work until the completion of any investigation or criminal proceedings against them.

The territory’s leader explained that inadequate staffing levels — for whatever reason — throughout ministries and departments impact the overall efficiency and productivity of the public service. He further said available funds should be provided to fill such vacancies.

In this context, he disclosed that collectively, these 10 interdicted officers earn a salary of approximately $370,000 and said accounting officers are required to maintain full emoluments for those officers on interdiction.

However, the Premier did not give any indication of how long these officers have continued to be interdicted from duty or any suggestion of the seriousness of the charges that have led to disciplinary action being taken against the officers.

“Should the charges be withdrawn against the officers or the officers are vindicated, all withheld monies are returned to the officer,” the Premier said.

Additional funds needed

He further explained that in order to maintain the efficient running of the short-staffed departments, ministry’s accounting officers may need additional funding to remunerate officers who may be asked to take on additional responsibilities in the absence of those officers on interdiction or to engage a substitute officer.

Premier Wheatley stated that contingency plans unfortunately require additional funding and argued that circumstances which require accounting officers to find additional moneys within existing budgets may detract from the programmes and services provided to the public.

The Department of Human Resources has reportedly sought legal advice on ways to improve the efficiency of the disciplinary process to avoid the administrative delays, Premier Wheatley said.

“Unfortunately, for matters involving officers with criminal proceedings, we are subject to the systematic delays in the justice system which significantly [exacerbates] the problem,” Dr Wheatley added.

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