Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Golden Handshakes and Consultants

Annie Hacker: Reform the Civil Service. 
Jim Hacker: Impossible. Catch 22. 
Annie Hacker: Why? Jim Hacker: Supposing I suggested 50 terrific reforms, who would have to implement them? 
(BOTH): The Civil Service.
-- Yes Minister

Christopher Davey points out that despite assurances in the past, Chief Officers who leave early still seem to be getting a golden handshake, let it not be forgotten, in addition to a gold-plated public sector pension. How can there be any real controls on public sector spending when this still goes on is questionable.

The other matter both letter writers question is the expert team brought in to tackle "slimming down the civil service". The usual end result of this is cuts to front-line services, bringing outrage from the public. In recent years, police and fire services, for example, have seen a reduction in front-line staff. We never hear about the middle-management in these reductions. So let us hope this may result in something better that easy targets.

Kevin Keen, while wishing this team well, acknowledges they have an uphill struggle. He notes that "Ten years ago, I spent my summer working voluntarily on recommendations for saving public money, which I submitted to the Chief Minister: they were not well received." That would be Frank Walker, in 2007, just to provide clarity.

He also mentions his recent contract: "In 2015, I spent a brief period in Cyril Le Marquand House being paid to advise on public sector reform - I have to say that was probably the most depressing period of my working life, and I admit, an abject failure."

And let us not also forget this from 2010: "The man employed by the States to save the Island money is being paid nearly £1,000 a day and is staying at one of the most luxurious Island hotels, the JEP can reveal."

Senator Ozouf employed temporary Treasurer of the States Hugh McGarel-Groves on the grounds that he was needed to sort out problems with the public expenditure. But if the problems had been there under Terry Le Sueur's watch, why did he do nothing about it? And what came of any suggestions from Hugh McGarel-Groves?

A golden goodbye
From Christopher Davey.

FORGIVE me if my ageing memory has led me astray, but were we not assured, following the outcry created by the half-million.-pound golden handshake paid to Bill Ogley for his requesting an early stand-down from his post as chief executive, that such largesse would never, ever happen again?

Further, as we understood it, was not the current incumbent, as part of his remit, given the unenviable task of slimming down our civil service? After an initial burst of enthusiasm he, predictably, seems to have given up. You report that he too is now leaving early and, amazingly, he is being rewarded with the equivalent of a golden handshake of some £70,000 plus.

Further still, recognising the intractability of the task, the new man, wisely, is bringing across with him four dynamic consultants, who will be paid eye-watering daily sums - plus expenses for the six month tenure that has been assessed they will need to sort the problem.

As taxpayers, may we wonder, following the said UK consultants' specific recommendations being routinely ignored, what bonuses they will have had written into their contracts to cheer up their (early) return home?

Victor Meldrew moments? Or just the Jersey Way?

From Brian Bisson.

SO we have a new States chief executive, Charlie Parker, complete with eye watering salary, who even before he has found his office, let alone put his feet under his desk, has decided to bring to the island a team of top consultants, for `about six months' to put things right!

The cost to the taxpayer is more than £624,000. How many individuals' tax returns will be required to pay this expense alone? Mr Parker has rapidly got accustomed to the `Jersey Way' of spending taxpayers' money.

How Chief Minister Ian Gorst can link this to the Jersey Child Care inquiry is beyond me. Was this a unilateral decision on his part, or did it have the backing of the full Council of Ministers?

I hope that Mr Parker comes to the conclusion, sooner rather than later, that this island cannot afford a Council of Ministers who repeatedly raise more and more taxes from the working population, and island businesses alike - taxes which are stunting growth and holding back the economy.

I hope he discovers that politicians who govern and make policies based on ego and wish lists that this Island cannot afford are dangerous men. Generations to come will be saddled with debt bringing severe austerity and high taxes.

I hope that next year's election will bring forward some candidates who will put the people of the island first, ensure that policies are based on common sense, are affordable, prudent and ensure that we live within our means at all times.
Finally, congratulations to the Infrastructure Department on the completion of the St Peter's cycling and pedestrian pathway. I hope they will turn their attention to the Island's roads, which are a disgrace. A patchwork of repairs with large surface cracks appearing everywhere, the roads have been neglected for far too long. The work to resurface the roads will take years and cost millions

The time to start is now. One harsh winter and there will be potholes every few feet.

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