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Govt to get rid of ghost workers

Mohalenyane Phakela

THE Ministry of Public Service has embarked on an exercise to eliminate ghost workers from the government’s payroll through a biometric and payroll census.

The project is spearheaded by a United Kingdom human resources company, Charlie Goldsmith Associates, who are expected to get rid of bogus workers in the next four months.

The programme that was launched on Thursday will also assess the qualifications of the civil servants.

The census is being undertaken under the Public-Sector Modernisation Project funded by the World Bank to the tune of US$ 1,5 million (M20.8 million).

Charlie Goldsmith Associates is also mandated to conduct a headcount and verify all public officers and civil pensioners. The organisation is also tasked to identify anomalies on the payroll and recommend measures to prevent the recurrence of the problems. Preparatory work started in 2016 from which census framework and communication strategies were developed.

Public Service Minister Joang Molapo said the cabinet embarked on the study to arrest the skyrocketing wage bill that has been attributed to ghost workers.

“The government has for a long time lamented the high rate of non-existent workers who are being paid,” Mr Molapo said.

“Some are either dead and still getting paid while some are registered multiple times under different identities. The objective is to extract a reputable image of the public service therefore, every person on the government payroll, including pensioners and chiefs, will be head-counted.”

Mr Molapo said those who will be found to have cheated the system would be prosecuted as the government moves to arrest the ballooning civil service wage bill.

“Those who are found guilty of this fraud will face criminal charges.”

Mr Molapo said Charlie Goldsmith Associates won the open tender based on its merits. He also noted that since the project was being funded by the World Bank, it does not matter whether or not the company is locally owned.

“The United Kingdom company was contracted through an open tender and it won based on its merits. World Bank funded projects do not consider the origin of one as long as they are assured that they will deliver. Lesotho companies have worked in other countries as well under World Bank.

“The government also rests assured that the company which will be working with two local consultants, will deliver a sterling job. They also said that four months will be enough as they have done this kind of job before in other countries and already have an estimate of the number of people they expect to be on the government payroll,” Mr Molapo said.

Charlie Goldsmith Associates’ website says that the “result will be to improve the integrity of human resources and payroll data”.

“Under the World Bank funded Public Service Modernisation Project (PSMP), we are supporting Lesotho to undertake a nationwide biometric and payroll census (BPC), to verify around 50 000 public officers in 27 ministries (all except the Lesotho Defence Force and National Security Service) at national and local levels. The result will be to improve the integrity of human resources and payroll data, through the development of a new BPC database.

“Our database will interface seamlessly with existing Ministry of Public Service and Ministry of Home Affairs databases, complementing the ongoing national registration exercise by the latter. We are developing secure, bespoke tools for data collection, verification, analysis, reporting and integration.”

Mr Molapo further said that all civil servants and pensioners are expected to bring their national identification documents (IDs), appointment letters, promotional letters, transfers, academic certificates and April 2018 payslips. Marriage certificates for those whose maiden names appear on any documents are also required.

However, he said the requirement of qualifications proof is not directed at firing civil servants but to assess the competency of the workforce to establish where there is need for capacitation.

“It is a must to have a national IDs therefore, those without them will not be enumerated. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs will be supporting the census by installing mobile services in different parts of the country and those without IDs will be given only a week to get them, failure of which they will be dismissed and replaced,” Mr Molapo said.

Ministry of public service human resource manager, ‘Mamahooana Nkeli, indicated that the project started in Maseru with the Ministry of Agriculture.

She said servants should be on the lookout for circulars at their work places which will tell when Charlie Goldsmith Associates will visit. She also said that pensioners will be served at their district administrators’ offices.

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