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52% of national budget spent on wage bill

- reveals HRMO Director-General

July 29, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura

Director-General of the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) yesterday informed members of the Transparency and Accountability Committee in Parliament that 52% of the country’s budget is spent on wage bill, and that more than 50% of civil servants are in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

Speaking in an interface with members at Committee Room 1, Abdul Rashid Baryoh said the percentage was discovered during an analytical survey of the wage bill in ministries, departments and agencies, adding that the wage burden was hindering the government’s effort in other sectors.

“The international standard for wage bill is 20%, but our country has 52%, which is unsustainable and donor-driven for the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, and it also affects the development of the country,” Baryoh said.

The HRMO director-general disclosed that some 413 public servants in various ministries, departments and agencies were sent on retirement in 2014, and that from January to June, a further 187 have been retired, adding that if the trend continues it would help recruitment drive targeting young graduates.

Hon. Amadu Fofanah questioned the director-general on the issue of motivation, which is one of the HRMO’s mandates, and whether the office monitored payments to 100 beneficiaries of death gratuity by the Accountant-General’s Department.

He also enquired into insurance scheme for civil servants, and whether ministries, departments and agencies were using attendance register daily, and whether 1,200 officers have received their NASSIT benefits.

Director of Staff Welfare at the HRMO, Umaru Conteh, said full payments had been to all the officers, adding that delays in payment to beneficiaries were as a result of absence of a son or daughter of deceased civil servants.

On the issue of insurance scheme for civil servants, Mr. Conteh said that was being dealt with by the National Insurance Company and a private insurance company.

Also speaking, Director of Planning, Ansu S. Tucker, said they were working on three key areas: pay reform, recruitment, and performance management. He said 315 middle level staff were being earmarked for recruitment but subject to an agreement with World Bank, while there were 1,001 critical vacancies to be filled in 2015.

But Tucker said that in order to go ahead with the recruitment government needed to augment its financial capacity which, in the current circumstance, was in a dire state due to the Ebola outbreak.

Speaking earlier, chairman of the committee, Hon. Claude D.M. Kamanda, who also doubles as Majority Whip of Parliament, said the purpose of the briefing was for the HRMO to update the committee about the current status of the workforce in the country with specific reference to retirement, which he said was a topical issue during a nationwide tour with officials of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recently.

He said the reason for retirement was to create room for qualified young people in the civil service by removing officials he referred to as “retired and tired” with the view to allowing the young ones to grow professionally in the service and boost their confidence to be able to contribute meaningfully to nation building.

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