National Productivity In The Public Sector, Moving to A System Of Meritocracy

Hon Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo Minister of Labour

Any slight increase in the wage bill will have serious implications because it means we’ll have to look for either cutting expenditure in other areas, particularly our social programme, which would be undesirable,” Thompson told reporters. And if we are certainly not contemplating layoffs or any reduction in wages so we are hoping this year, in the construction of our estimates, to be able to not increase the wage bill in any way other than by way of increments – – CANANEWS 02/02/2010

The quote above is attributed to the late Prime Minister David Thompson. BU remembers that it was the then Minister of Economic Affairs David Estwick who first socialized the idea government should use a wage freeze as part of its fiscal strategy to respond to the challenge of a runway deficit on current account. He reached out to the unions by asking them to be sensitive to the current economic realities.

Successive governments have used the public service to pamper the electorate, in 1991 a DLP government imposed an 8% cut in salaries and sent home 3,000 public sector workers as a response to the urgent need to cut back spending which was a condition to drawing down on IMF funds. This time around a DLP government which finds itself in a tough economic situation has decided to raise its domestic debt profile to a level where it has never reached. The consequences of the decision means it has become fair game for those who appreciate the precarious position it places the economy. Thankfully our foreign exchange reserves although dwindling does not require we approach the IMF at this time.

One would have thought using only commonsense after ‘surviving’ the austerity period of the 90s, governments to follow would have capitalized on the need to retrofit the public service. To the contrary Barbados finds itself once again saddled with a ballooning public sector wage bill. Symbolic perhaps of where we find ourselves is the fact we have the largest cabinet since Independence and a public service which has grown from 17,000+ in the 90s to 21,000 in recent times. Advancement in technology, modern management approaches and the need to encourage entrepreneurism, one would have thought Barbados would see less government and more facilitation strategies. Our current crop of politicians continue to compromise development by resorting to dung-basket strategies.

If the public sector represents a significant share of the workforce, it should logically follows if we are serious about increasing national productivity,  the government must implement a performance management system post haste.  A recent comment by President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Walter Maloney suggests he is comfortable with the results of the recent NISE Survey which ranked some public sector departments fairly high. How are we able to assess performance accurately if it is not ‘scientifically’ captured?

Little England has inherited its revered government bureaucracy from the Mother Country which in an earlier world of quotas, preferential tariffs etcetera served us well.   Public Sector reform cannot only be about improving customer service. Civil Servants need to step into the 21st century. Can the relevant government officers explain why e-service/commerce functionality in not available in the technological age despite having spent millions to educate generations of Barbadians?

Last week a report was released in the United Kingdom which recommends   “… senior civil servants, should face a new pay regime that could mean wage cuts of up to 20 per cent for those who under-perform. It also tells ministers to force private companies to disclose more information about their chief executives wages.” While the focus is on improving productivity in the public sector, we cannot forget the importance of doing the same in the private sector. The recent revelation that former President of CLICO Holdings Barbados Leroy Parris earned a whopping $80,000 package makes the issue of equating performance with pay a national priority issue. The report went on to recommend that  “senior public sector staff would have at least 10 per cent of their basic salary withheld each year. The money would only be paid if annual performance targets were met.”

All of this begs the question on the eve of signing Protocol Six of the Social Partnership, shouldn’t Barbados be moving towards a system which embraces meritocracy in pay in the public service and beyond?

0 thoughts on “National Productivity In The Public Sector, Moving to A System Of Meritocracy


  1. i fully suspect she’ll b PM one day, and that she’ll do a very good job. a sort of Rihanna of politics!


  2. The man wiv no name
    When you say that you suspect she’ll be P.M one day, are you referring to Dr Byer Suckoo? If it is she you mean, then I’ll prefer Sarah Palin becoming President of USA than Suckoo becomeing P.M of Barbados. Maybe you were referring to Mia.


  3. On the topic of workforce productivity, both in the public and private sector improved productivity MUST start at the top. Most government ministers, P.S’s and executive staff and political lackies seems to think the less they do the better it is for them. The fact that in the civil service, jobs are well protected, much of the staff have a easy come easy go approach to work. While in the private sector management are more strict on their lower and middle level staff, the executives breeze through most of the day and do little or nothing most days. Only if salaries were linked to productivity from the TOP to the bottom of the work ladder, in both the public and private sectors, the position of Barbados’ economics would greatly improve. The big question is ” when would that day come?”


  4. They are some executive staff at some private Companies in Barbados who are paid monthly salaries way above that of even the P.M. In most cases few of them can seriously represent the ratio between their productivity and their salary. I’ve always said that anytime a company is downgrading and staff must go, they should start at the top; for every one executive severed, the company can easily retain five to ten lower level staff members, who are more beneficial to the company, since they are the one who produce more.


  5. Hi ta all my BU peeps.

    Surgery was successful.
    Still under doctor’s care.
    Still a little discomfort.
    Taking it nice n easy fa now.


  6. Hi Scout, no, I was referring to Dr Suckoo. Mind u, I could b biased cos i sort of fancy her!! 🙂 as, i suspect, so do a lot of Bajee guys but duh does keep quiet bout it! However, as i in Hinglan i can tell d world!
    Now, Scout, for heaven’s sake, what have u got against the good lady!

    Welcome back Bonny. i asked them for u but nobody would tell me. u know wha dey like! i went under the knife myself some time ago. at first ull feel like ***t, but take heart. after a month or so ull feel as good as new. welcome back!!


  7. Scout, funnily enough, I’d prefer that Palin were President of Uncle Sam than that Mia was PM of Bim, especially if what i hear about Mia’s sexual orientation is true!


  8. Wait Peps you get back …? So good to see you could still write, so your motor skills intact..! Welcome back … I sure that ac and Pat and Hopi and Islandgirl and Jay and de res ah de clan gun be sayin’ somet’ing soon chile …! Rest an’ keep good (I ain’ wan’ nabody hear, so I talking sof’ … I hear that you get somet’ing or somet’ings reconstruct, is dat true ..?)


  9. Hey Bonny Peppa, good to have yuh back! It was lonely here without yuh. I aint to well too, got a bad sore throat and was puking from both ends. De doc gave me some antibiotics and someting fuh muh nose. Ah hear some ting gine round. Glad to hear yuh surgery was successful an dat wutless BAFBF trying to say yuh did get a boob job. (BTW is dat true?) LOLLL Well he musy know bout dem tings, ah wonder what he had reconstructed? LOLLLL or EXTENZED LOLLL


  10. the man wiv no name
    Personally, I have nothing against the lady, but she has not impressed me as a minister, I don’t think she has impressed either the late David Thompson or the present P.M either.


  11. The man with no name Palin for Pres in USA against Mia for Barbados? PLEASE don’t put me in that Pele case, I ain’t got no money.


  12. But Islandgirl wah I do you at all …? Cuh dear, you don’ lie ’bout sleepin’ dogs, you suppose to let sleepin’ dogs lie … !:)


  13. Scout, I just wonder to what extent you are familiar with the work of the minister that you can determine you’re not impressed by her? Have you attended many of her surgeries, listened to many of her speeches, followed her activities closely? It’s easy to talk my friend, but is it from a basis of much personal knowledge of the person? As for Thompson not being impressed with her. It’s difficult for me to see what of any considerable note that he achieved while he was there and, as for Fruendel, has he achieved anything at all, yet?!!


  14. the man wiv no name
    No, I have no attended many of her surgeries simply because she NEVER had any, I’ve listened to her speeches and many sound good, I’ve followed her activities and apart from her pleasant personality, she has achieved little in all the ministries she has headed. My friend it is obvious you don’t know the lady and just see a face, to be a leader, a P.M requires much more than looks or charm and that’s all she has, politically. David Thompson realised that and so too Stuart but for those characteristics they are obliged to keep her. Like some many others, she’s just not P.M material, even though she is a nice lady.


  15. the man wiv no name
    In case you want to find out what David Thompson did in his term of office, ask the many DLP supporters and yardfowls who were clamouring for him to be made a National Hero, some even said he did more than Errol Barrow; he was labelled a little below the Heavenly Angels. I personaly was a good friend of his but he lacked much as a politician, I think in the early day of him in politics I used to refer to him as a forced ripe mango; he mellowed out as he matured but as far as I’m concerned, he had potential but didn’t get the chanceto prove it. On the other hand, Stuart is the luckiest politician I know, He ran in St. Philip, won his seat because he is a homer, but immediately ignored his people until the next elections, where of course the people then didn’t know him and he failed, a similar thing happened to Wood. Stuart has been fortunate to gain a seat in St. Michael but has fallen into the same vein and would recieve the same treatment, however, since he has done his terms in office and is at that ripe age of retirement, he again would benefi from losing because he would recieve a big salary as a former P.M and has contributed little or nothing to the welfare of Barbados. What a waste but you can hand it to him for having used the system well, to his advantage


  16. Hi Scout, n thank you for those two very informative replies. I’m disappointed that ‘nobody’ seems impressed with Suckoo, although I assume she was re-elected? Purely on the basis of her personality and looks?!!

    As for Thompy, it’s a pity he didn’t get longer to show us his true mettle. All I can say to you guys is to ‘checks ur *alls regularly’ for possible testicular c! I’ve no idea at all of the cause of his death and can only speculate, but it’s not bad advice anyway!

    As for Stuart, I don’t know him at all, but I can’t claim that his looks impress me, which only make me want to go to sleep. It would be wonderful if he could surprise me and do something really innovative, creative and uplifting for Bim. I shan’t hold my breath. I’m afraid that, for that, you would need me, and I’m just a little too far away at the moment!! 🙂


  17. Page 5 of Barbadostoday digital edition.

    Pure raw Bajan Talent. That young lady can sing.
    With some voice training and good studio muscians she would be really good.


  18. GP de youngsters representin.

    Kolij team wins war of words
    THE Harrison College debate team was the clear winner in the final of the Schools’ Science Lecture Series and Debating Competition hosted by the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST

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