Rural Development and Local Development Minister Kazim Hosein described productivity at the country’s 14 regional corporations “as the worst” as he called on CEOs to ensure that workers give an “honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay”.
Hosein’s comments came yesterday at a Joint Select Committee on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Local Government Reform) Bill chaired by Clarence Rambharat at the J Hamilton Maurice Room, Parliament Building, Port-of-Spain.
Appearing before the committee were mayors, CEOs and employees of the Port-of-Spain, San Fernando, Chagunanas and Point Fortin corporations.
The bill which was laid in the Lower House seeks to amend the existing municipal corporation’s act and several pieces of its current legislation.
It also serves to make the delivery of services and goods more efficient and effective.
Hosein told Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez that there was a consensus that services were not filtering down to burgesses, stating that funding has always been a problem.
However, Martinez pointed out that we tend “to hide behind the current act to say what we can not do versus what we should be trying to do.”
Corporations, Martinez said needed to be more creative in service delivery.
“We hide behind the act more than anything else. We bug it down with so many things.”
Hosein said one thing he noticed that “productivity at the corporations is the worst.”
It was habitual, Hosein said for employees to show up at odd hours on the job.
Hosein said CEOs should ensure that employees come to work on time.
“We bringing the reform...but the reform could come but the productivity could still be low. You cannot wait for the reform...the reform will come but we have to deal with productivity. We have to ensure that the CEOs manage the corporations. That is their job.”
Hosein said CEOs who arrive at work 10 am were not setting a good example for employees.
This, he said must be addressed.
The corporations have 14,000 employees.
Martinez said this was an ongoing problem not only at corporations but “indiscipline in our society that we have allowed to escape us for years.”
Martinez held the view that reform will guide us, but it would not change discipline.
“We have to instill discipline from the get-go. And we have been trying to do that at the corporation. We have even spoken about letter writing.”
Martinez said such workers are not given warning letters to show their infraction.
“Is always like some partner or friendship system that they have a bond for years where they can come together to not get the job done and not go to work.”
Member Suruj Rambachan expressed concern about CEOs who did not help in the upliftment of corporations but had been promoted to acting deputy permanent secretaries.
Rambachan believed that we were 50 per cent inefficient in local government.
“We are losing money in local government daily because of slackness on the part of CEOs and they don’t want to enforce the law.”
Rambachan said to compound matters Government was not providing resources, equipment was sitting idly by while labourers who collected $125 an hour were seldom on the job.