Bonus at State firms - $119m in five years
By JADA LOUTOO and CAROL MATROO
Between 1997 and 2001, more than $119 million was paid out as bonuses by a number of State enterprises.
Petrotrin paid out the highest figure of more than $46 million, with a whopping $27 million in 2000 alone.
Trade and Industry Minister Ken Valley, at a post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday, said some of the companies had no policy for awarding bonuses, but still paid them.
“I went to Cabinet and said this has happened in the past and we have to correct it,” he said.
He also pointed out that some of the companies were losing money, while others had a policy that salaries and bonuses had to be approved by a Cabinet-appointed committee.
First Citizens Bank paid out $27 million over the five years, more than $7.4 million of it in 2001.
The cash-strapped National Broadcasting Network paid out the least – $43,500.
The National Maintenance Training and Security Company paid out $5.2 million, while Caroni (1975) Ltd awarded $48,125.
These were the findings of a request by Government for companies to submit records of all bonuses paid during the five-year period; accounts of the policies governing the award of bonuses to all levels of employees; and the conditions under which bonuses were given.
Some 28 enterprises – 24 wholly and majority-owned and four minority-owned — were asked for the information.
It revealed that 18 enterprises awarded bonuses, while nine indicated they had no policies, formal or informal, and therefore paid no bonus for the period.
Fifteen companies used a combination of company and employee performance as a basis for the amount awarded.
It was noted that certain managers of Caroni were paid bonuses according to performance, but the actual payments were effected as advances and were not authorised by the Board of directors.
Last February, Cabinet decided that bonuses must be paid according to established government guidelines.
Out of concern over the large amounts of bonuses paid out by these State-owned enterprises, the Finance Minister recommended that:
• The Public Sector Negotiations Committee (established by Cabinet to monitor negotiations on wages and salaries in the public sector and pay and on conditions of employment in statutory Boards and corporations wholly or majority owned by the State) be the authorised agency for paying bonuses.
• All wholly and majority-owned State enterprises and statutory Boards be required to seek the committee’s approval for future bonus payments.
• In cases where bonus payments already form part of a union agreement, the enterprise should provide details to the Public Sector Negotiations Committee.
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