Govt seeking to pay off retrenched staff: Abel

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By HELEN TARAWA
THE Government will need a significant amount of money to pay retrenched staff currently on its payroll, Finance and Rural Development Minister Charles Abel, pictured, says.
Abel, without elaborating on the amount of money required, told The National that there was a significant number of public servants who had for one reason or another not working any longer but were still on the payroll.
“They may have reached retirement age or have voluntarily retired or while in the process of going through some sort of restructure in the public service lost their jobs,” he said.
“The issue is that it’s significant money to pay them off, so what happens in the meantime is that they just stay on the payroll until their retrenchment exercise is fully completed by paying them out.
“We cannot pay them out, they continue to remain on the payroll so it is another area where we have to budget properly so we can remove these people on the budget by paying them and they go.
“This is one of the areas that continue to be highlighted but we just don’t have the resources to address these things properly,” Abel said.
He said there were about 120,000 public servants on the Government payroll every year.
Abel said the Government continued to recruit several thousands more because people were coming out of the teaching colleges, nursing schools, doctors and police.
“We still have to factor for this but everything needs to be properly captured in the budget.
“The other issue is the right balance so it’s good to bring on more teachers, no one is arguing about nurses, doctors and police – we need them.
“But on the other hand, do we need some of the other people that are coming on the system?
“Do we need a lot of the administrative type workers who are also coming on the system?
“We just have to make sure we have the right balance so we are spending more money on payroll for more people in Waigani or unnecessary new agencies.
“You can’t stop the wage bill growing but you just need to keep at a sustainable level.
“We need to keep it within five to six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product level, that we should keep the wage so that we have the right size public service.”

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