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Dumas: Taxpayers will feel cost of new ministries
Taxpayers are expected to shell out millions of dollars to keep afloat the new ministries whose creation was announced on Friday by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Former head of the public service Reginald Dumas on Monday gave Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed two weeks to announce the cost-benefit factors to the public.
As part of her Cabinet reshuffle, Persad-Bissessar unveiled the Ministry of Tertiary Education, a split from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education, which will be headed by Fazal Karim. There is now a Ministry of the Environment & Water Resources, taking the Environment aspect away from the Ministry of Housing and the Environment.
This will be headed by former WASA CEO Ganga Singh. The Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration will have former minister in the Ministry of Education Clifton de Coteau at the helm. But what will be the cost to taxpayers? Dumas said it was difficult to calculate the exact figure but said the amount could easily be in the millions.
“And over the cost of time it will definitely run into the tens and then hundreds of millions,” he added. He said the creation of new ministries equated to new salaries and benefits, accommodation, renting of vehicles, the purchasing of paper, like letterheads, office equipment and furniture, to name a few items.
“But the biggest question is whether the staff would be sourced from within the public service or would be on contract, as is traditionally the case, and hired as party supporters and paid very large salaries?” Dumas questioned. An official in the Ministry of Public Administration said the creation of the new entities would pose a huge challenge before everything could be smoothly implemented.
The Cabinet now has 33 members and there are seven non-Cabinet ministers. Dumas believed that was the largest Cabinet in T&T’s history. The last pay hike for ministers and MPs was in 2006 when the Prime Minister’s salary was increased to $48,000 a month; Cabinet Ministers’ salaries increased to $33,000 a month and non-Cabinet Ministers to $27,000 a month.
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