November 11, 2005

Salary ‘hike’ blamed on computer glitch

A computer glitch may have caused senior public servants to take home tax-free salaries for the month of October. And as a result the treasury was short of an estimated $500,000 from the civil service’s highest paid officers.

At the end of October some senior public servants must have been pleasantly surprised when they received their pay cheques with what seemed to be an increase. They may have thought the extra money was part of the package of “goodies” presented by the Prime Minister in his Independence Address on October 27 at Victoria Park.{{more}}

The “increase” occurred because income tax was not deducted from the salaries of officers in Grade 8 and above for that month.

Approximately 475 Public Officers including Permanent Secretaries, Senior Assistant Secretaries, Doctors, Graduate Teachers and Senior Technical Officers were affected.

But some public servants have said that the windfall has already been spent. “I thought it was the bank’s error. I called the bank and they said they did not make an error. So I spent it,” confessed a senior graduate teacher.

Another said, “I noticed that the amount on my slip looked high, but it didn’t occur to me that something was wrong.”

Consequently, a circular from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education sent to all Senior Officers in that Ministry said that the situation arose because of a “technical problem.”

Similar circulars have been issued by permanent secretaries in the various ministries advising that the monies will be deducted in one installment from salaries for the month of November, 2005.

Searchlight has been informed that investigations into the source of the problem are still ongoing, but suspicions are that the problem may be related to the introduction of a new payroll module, part of the Smartstream accounting software used by the Government.