Government is not “at this time” considering any staff reduction at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) or T&T Electricity Commission (TTEC), Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has confirmed.
Rowley did so at yesterday’s Parliament sitting in reply to Opposition questions.
This followed Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte’s recent statement that WASA’s workforce is much larger than required. Rowley was asked if Government intends reducing WASA and TTEC employment levels at this time.
Saying this wasn’t being considered “at this time, “Rowley said Government’s focus was on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of both utilities.
On the impending reduction of WASA contractors, Rowley, however, said, “If you’re paying employees and contractors also and you focus on removing contractors and let workers do the job they’re paid for, you’re saving money.
“WASA wasn’t created to create jobs but to supply water. If you have people being paid twice for the same job, the consideration isn’t reducing jobs by contractors, but using them where they’re absolutely necessary and letting employees on the payroll do the jobs.”
On whether a water rate hike is intended, Rowley said rate increases are within the Regulated Industries Commission’s ambit and they make recommendations to Government.
“But no such (rate hike) recommendation is before us at this time. But the RIC continues to review the situation, WASA will make its submission to RIC and at the end of that what RIC recommends to the country will be what is considered,” he said.
On queries about cases of children being denied funding by the Children’s Life Fund, Rowley said the basis on which the fund was established in law indicates denials are part of the process, as not every application is guaranteed to find favourable response.
“I’m not aware we’re in a position to make changes to the law to ensure every applicant is guaranteed to get favourable response,” he added.
Rowley also replied a swift “Yes,” when asked whether Government’s contract with the Washington-based “The Group DC” consultants will be renewed. The firm, run by Arthur Collins, was contracted in 2016 for US$2.4 million for two years to lobby for Government in the US.
On the report by the Wilson team which investigated - and completed three months ago - the Sports Ministry’s $150,000 settlement with a former female employee, Rowley said he couldn’t comment on it or make it public since this could in some cases jeopardise a report’s basis.
He said it has information that could damage people who’ve been referred to and in keeping with natural justice principles, the report was made available to those people so they can comment before the report can be advanced further. He said the report is likely to go further at “some point” when all checks are done and people given an opportunity to report to the relevant officials.
On the report by Ambassador Christopher Thomas on T&T’s veto of Dominica’s request for an OAS fee waiver, Rowley said the report made no reference to any wrongdoing by Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses in the issue. He said the best place for the report to be presented is via Parliament’s Foreign Affairs team soon.