Ascension : Ascension Island Government - Statement From the Administrator.
Submitted by The Islander (Ascension Island Government) 19.11.2009 (Article Archived on 03.12.2009)
I would like to say a few words to put into perspective what is going on regarding job losses in government on Ascension Island.
The background is that the government are having to address a serious imbalance in its finances as a result of insufficient tax and other revenues over the years since taxation was introduced in 2002. I think everyone is aware of the main reason for this - a dispute with one of the major taxpayers which has meant the loss of over four hundred thousand pounds, each year since taxation was introduced. The resultant squeeze on government finances may have been manageable in the early years while there was more revenue coming from other sources, while the cash reserves were still in good shape, and before prices had risen so sharply over the ensuing years (inflation can hit small remote islands particularly hard), but that state of affairs overlooked or masked the major underlying problem that sooner or later was going to have to be faced and that is the non-payment of taxes due. We continue to work hard to resolve that issue.
We clearly cannot keep spending more money than comes in. That is one reason why we are looking for savings throughout our government operations. In addition to this, government has a duty to ensure that the taxpayer is given best value for money and an assurance that its operations are as efficient and modern as possible. I know that there are concerns from other users and taxpayers on the island about the size of the government, its perceived inefficiencies and some out-dated processes. While not all the claims are well founded we are taking the need to demonstrate value for money and efficiency seriously. That is another reason why we have embarked on a process of modernisation and restructuring of all our activities. The end result of this work will be a more modern, efficient, flexible and responsive organization that offers best value for money in the services it delivers.
Government is not alone in doing this, nor can it be immune from the need that all organizations have to reassess themselves periodically. And as you know the other organizations on Ascension have had to make redundancies. We are all affected by the global economic downturn so cannot be surprised at these developments, painful though they obviously are. But I am confident that Ascension will remain an important place for organizations like the BBC World Service, CSO, the Ministry of Defence and the US Air Force, among others, and therefore will continue to provide jobs and livelihoods for many people, for many years to come. That will also continue to ensure a place for government whose role is to provide governance, the rule of law and delivery of common services.
This is obviously a difficult time for employees of the government and their families, just as it will have been for those affected by similar processes carried out by other organizations this year. Rumours only make this worse and add unnecessarily to people's distress. I do not know where the number 31 (the supposed total number of redundancies) that has been referred to comes from. It is not a number I have ever used, nor indeed is there even a number at all. What we are doing is looking very closely at each department and process to see how we can deliver services as efficiently as possible. This will be an ongoing process designed to ensure that the organization maintains continuous improvement in its operations.
Regarding rumours surrounding the school I would point out that the review that is currently examining the school and its operations has not even been completed, and when it is, its findings will need to be discussed with the Island Council before any decisions are taken.
To those of you who work for the government I would encourage you, as we have done in our most recent internal communication, to speak with your line managers or one of the two Directors about the modernisation process rather than rely on rumour. Further internal communications will follow when further information is available.
16th November 2009