Office to lay off 70 casuals


ABOUT 70 casuals for the 2020 national Census were served notices of termination by the National Statistics Office on Tuesday following a decision to engage a census technical adviser.
Census director and deputy national statistician Bernard Kiele told The National that acting national statistician John Igitoi had terminated the casuals.
Kiele said there was confusion over the decision to appoint a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Census technical adviser (CTA) to be the national census director.
He said casual officers were recruited to assist NSO to develop and implement Census activities.
Yesterday the casuals caused a commotion at the NSO to express their frustration over the management’s action. Attempts by The National to speak to Igitoi were unsuccessful.
Igitoi, the manager of PNG Strategy for the Development of Statistics at the National Planning Department, was appointed acting national statistician for three months last week.
Kiele claimed the casuals protested because Igitoi tried to terminate their contracts without proper assessments and consultation.
He said Planning Minister Richard Maru had directed that Census technical adviser with UNDP become the census director with NSO and that was causing confusion among the parties concerned.
It is understood that Maru had directed K4.9 million from the NSO Census 2020 budget of K20million to facilitate the engagement of the census technical adviser.
Maru, who was in his electorate, could not be reached for comment while National Planning secretary Koney Samuel said he was not in any position to comment. Cabinet had endorsed July 12, 2020 as the Census night as a reference point in time to avoid double counting.
Maru, who announced the cabinet’s decision on the date in Parliament last week, said population and housing census was the biggest peacetime operation conducted every 10 years.
A media officer with the project, Ben Mandea, said the notification of layoffs for the casuals had come as a surprise to officers like him, who had worked on the Census project since February.
“We are working without pay for six months, since February,” he said.
“Now they put on notice that everyone, the Census project officers, should be laid off until further notice.
“This is uncalled for and a disgrace. The type of management decisions that they make really affect us. We really feel the pain because we haven’t been paid. This thing needs to be addressed quickly.”
Angry workers have been seeking an explanation but Maru said that he had nothing to do with internal staff matters.