When the public service re-opens next Monday, May 4, some sections will have minimal staff and provide only basic services initially.
This disclosure came Wednesday night from Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who said, however, that those entities would increase their staffing complements and the services provided, in the coming weeks, as the situation allowed.
“That is because we don’t want to have too many people moving back into work and on the roads at the same time, so we are taking a phased approach,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley made the comments during an address to the nation, where she discussed the lifting of restrictions which were imposed nearly a month ago to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, she noted that government entities providing functions deemed critical at this time would re-commence operations with regular staffing complements to provide full services.
She pointed out that government offices, such as the General Post Office and the National Insurance Department, which functioned over the curfew period, would continue to do so with their regular staff numbers.
The Prime Minister stated: “I consider it important to get the seeds of economic activity growing again … and therefore departments such as those responsible for projects in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance; in the Lands and Surveys Department; in the Ministry of Housing and in the Land Registry and in the Rural Development Commission, are supportive of the kinds of targeted construction activities that we need at this time.
“Similarly, there will be other entities like the Urban Development Commission that is involved in the completion of the construction of the Cheapside Market as well as the new facilities for the BARVEN vendors on the Spring Garden Highway.”
Ms. Mottley pointed out that public officers who could work from home would have the opportunity to do so.
She added that in the coming weeks, Government would seek to acquire technology for more of them to have that option of working remotely, as far as possible.
“A system of staff rotation and flexi-time will be implemented across the public sector. The Ministry of Public Service has already been discussing this with its union partners. Permanent Secretaries have already been requested to provide operational plans to give effect to these approaches. This process will be managed by them in consultation with the Head of the Public Service and officers will be informed by their Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department,” she stated.
The Prime Minister warned members of the public not to expect the speed of service delivery in some partially staffed offices to be the same as obtained when they were operating with their full complements.
“I ask you to remember this and be patient as we try to meet the needs of the country’s public health, while still ramping back up some level of services for the benefit of you the public,” she said.
The Prime Minister encouraged persons to, wherever possible, communicate with government offices by telephone or electronically.
She added that where it was necessary to physically interact with the agencies, persons should, in the first few weeks, try to follow the lettering system, now in place for shopping and conducting bank transactions.
“Note I said, as far as possible. We are adults and we need to trust each other. But remember always, if it gets out of hand, the Government will take whatever action is needed to protect the health of the people of this country,” she cautioned.
Ms. Mottley said as the public service goes forward, there would be a need to work through issues in this new environment, such as the provision of personal protective equipment for staff, and adjustments to some physical spaces.
She stressed, however, that when these new measures come onstream in the public service, the requirement of physical distancing must be observed.
To download the document ‘Functioning Of Government Offices Post Curfew’ please click here.