March 17, 2017

It was a painful decision to close Government Human Resource Services Company Limited (GHRS).

This morning Minister of Public Administration and Communications, the Honourable Maxie Cuffie met with staff at the state agency to listen to their concerns and questions about the future of the company.

He said the decision was taken on Thursday (March 16) at Cabinet but conceded that he should have communicated with staff before it was announced. He apologized for the manner in which the decision was conveyed to them.
“It was a hard decision to make and although it was only announced yesterday it was something we had been toying with and deliberating to find the best way. I’d been speaking to your Chairman over that time to see how best we can make this work if at all…”

The Government, he said, could not justify keeping the GHRS in light of the first quarter report from the Central Bank which pointed to further declines in the economy and declines in terms of Government revenue.

“… the country could no longer afford to pay approximately $8M every year to GHRS when in the first place we no longer needed to attract persons from abroad and we don’t have the funds to pay them.”

In sharing the rationale which guided the Cabinet decision, Minister Cuffie explained that when the company was established in 2006 the Trinidad and Tobago economy grew by 7.7 percent which meant the country was in need of additional human resources. He said the Government at the time felt that it needed to attract the best minds to Trinidad and Tobago.

“We had the money to employ them and to bring them here. By 2010 the international recession had kicked in, our economic growth had declined and the Government was challenged for funds.

So in fact from 2010 a decision was made to look at the possibility of closing GHRS. A Cabinet note was drafted but it was never submitted and time went on.”
The Minister explained that by 2016 the economy had deteriorated drastically and the committee set up to examine the operations of special purpose companies and fully-owned state enterprises identified GHRS as one of the companies the Government does not need. It was recommended that the services offered by GHRS be transferred to the Public Service.

“The Public Accounts Enterprise Committee which is chaired by a member of the Opposition also looked at GHRS and found that it had strayed from its mandate and there needs to be a new vision if the company is to survive…”

He told the employees that the board of GHRS looked long and hard at what could be done to save the company. The Minister also stressed that the Government will honour employees’ contracts and its obligations while urging the employees to take advantage of the National Employment Service offered by the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development.

Additionally, Minister Cuffie promised that a system will be put in place to help employees through this difficult period but said he knows that GHRS employed some of the brightest minds, therefore he is confident they will have no difficulty landing new jobs.

The Minister also committed to communicating new developments to the employees in a timely and respectful manner and said he remains open to listening and answering any other questions they might have.

In the meantime, Chairman of the GHRS board, Avalaughn Huggins told the employees that they will be paid their gratuity because the separation was initiated by the employer (Government); the Deputy CEO and VP, Corporate Planning, Geoffrey Lewis also invited employees to share their concerns with him via email or face-to-face meetings.