An economist has labelled as “unsustainable” the steady increase in the Government of Antigua & Barbuda’s wage bill and its routine yearly increase in the number of non-established workers.
This year’s budget estimates reveal that there has been an 11 per cent increase in the number of workers in the non-established sector while the number of workers in the established sector jumped by a mere 1 per cent.
Former Revenue Reform Project Manager and Economist, Everett Christian, told OBSERVER media, “Those are the people who the politicians tend to put into positions … It’s a way to bypass the Establishment Division.”
According to 2017’s estimates, 58 employees were added to the government’s wage bill by the Establishment Division while 509 were added to the non-established work force.
Commensurately, the total wages and salaries estimate jumped by 12.2 per cent from $318,708,951 in 2016 to $357,470,612 in 2017. Christian advised that the trend was “unsustainable in the long term”.
“That is the danger of having this two-tiered system where the politicians are in control of one hiring system and the Establishment Division is in control of the other … There is a programme which the UPP had started with funding from the World Bank to try and unify the service.
“Instead of having these two things – non-established and established – bring everything together as one. There should be one set of rules governing the public service. It’s a way to modernise and streamline the whole situation. That has been abandoned since the Labour Party came to power,” Christian said.
He worked as revenue reform manager during the administration of the United Progressive Party (UPP).
In 2012, the total estimate for wages and salaries was $285,690,691. Between 2012 and 2017, there has been a 25.1 per cent increase in the monetary estimates for wages and salaries.
Based on the number of government workers stated in the 2017 Budget Estimates and the total estimated wage bill, the average salary of a government employee works out to be $2,769.54.