The story goes the following: Aruba and the Netherlands struck an agreement in 2018, then again in 2019 including 2021, that set the budget DEFICIT for GOA for the financial year 2019 at a maximum of 0.5% of the gross domestic product – GDP. Then for 2020, GOA was supposed to show a surplus of at least 0.5% of GDP, followed by a surplus of at least 1.0% of GDP from 2021 and on.
How do you turn finances around to create a surplus?
It’s elementary, my dear Watson, public expenditure must be controlled.
But, over the past decade, GOA spent 1/3 of its budget on staffing, with a substantial amount of that on OVERTIME.
So the Aruba Financial Supervision College, CAFT, decided to EXAMINE the issue. The Dutch are thorough, and meticulous and last week they presented a 24-page report to GOA, answering the million-dollar question: Why is it that the overtime allowances at the executive services are so high and how can they be reduced?
They investigated the Aruba Police Force, Customs, the Prison service, and the Fire Brigade, combing GOA’s data files, and interviewing stakeholders.
Under the guidance of General Audit Chamber of Aruba, ARA, a number of other entities were scanned, with a possible in-depth investigation to follow.
The results showed a remarkable picture: In all services investigated a STRUCTURAL overtime system exists, that for many employees now forms a substantial part of their monthly payment.
With a sense of entitlement attached.
Imagine, many executive services’ employees work overtime on average 30-hours a week or more, IN ADDITION to the regular 40-hour working week.
Of course, such a workload may result is serious health risks, burnout and compromised job performance, diminished safety.
ANOTHER worrying trend is the flip-side of overtime, namely absenteeism, which within the ENTIRE civil service is very high, far above 8%.
Does absenteeism lead to overtime? Does overtime lead to absenteeism?
The analysis shows these two are related.
And while current legislation and regulations offer sufficient tools to prevent overtime, these are not being used.
We are blessed by concrete measures to combat high absenteeism, but we don’t apply them.
In its conclusion-portion, the report states that it IS CRUCIAL that steps be taken to enforce concrete government-wide management measures to help us achieve a CULTURAL CHANGE.
We must pay close attention and develop a government-wide sickness absence policy, including the review of the available sanctions, which CAN be a first meaningful step in reducing sick leave.
Needless to say that reducing overtime requires unpopular measures, but they pay off in the long term.
The report ends with three unpopular words: monthly monitoring and accountability.