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Finance Minister Colm Imbert, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Attorney general Faris Al-Rawi in the Parliament for the presentation of the Budget.

The hiring freeze in the public service was a measure to curb the reallocation of unused funds into other avenues.

The freeze was one of the measures announced by Minister of Finance Colm Imbert during the Budget presentation on Monday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the decision to implement the freeze was based on the fact that money allocated to fill vacancies were often not used in that manner.

“Every year in the budget in every ministry there is a whole stack of posts which are deemed vacant meaning that there is nobody in that post but you make provisions to fund it. And what the management of the public service usually does is to get that funding for a vacant post. But during the operations of government business during the year, they hardly fill those posts,” he said.

In many cases, the Prime Minister said ministries would take those funds and use it for other projects, and in this budget, it was not feasible to increase the budget deficit for unplanned spending.

“So it’s like a pool of money that during the year you change and do other things. So all we said, since the vacant post block is not largely used, take it out of the budget and then what it would do. It would remove the ease of flexibility of putting one place into another when it wasn’t probably required there” he said.

“So it will bring tighter and better management in the system. And in any case, we don’t have the money to apportion, you know this is a case of necessity being the mother of that decision. And if we had budgeted for that it would reflect itself in a larger deficit on the budget.”

“ It is not an expense that is a priority and really it is a line in the budget that would most likely not be utilised,” he said.

The Prime Minister, however, said it would not affect the possible hiring of contract workers where necessary to fulfil certain roles.

“It does not mean that from time to time as you require a contract position so as to deal with public business, contract positions are managed tight without a problem. But these vacant posts are public service positions which are on the establishment,” he said.