A top Grenadian Engineer in Trinidad & Tobago has said that the low salary offer to local Engineers are resulting in many of the highly qualified and experienced professionals not wanting to accept the key post of Chief Technical Officer (CTO) in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Physical Development.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY, the technical expert said he knows of some instances in which local Engineers are more qualified and competent than some of the high-priced Consultants who are also qualified Engineers and brought in to do projects for the government of Grenada.
He said that over the years, the state has been able to attract millions of dollars in overseas funding to do infrastructure projects but the island has been failing miserable in improving on the human capacity to execute many of the projects.
He charged that public servants are paid “peanuts” but Consultants are brought in and in some cases getting as much as three times the salaries paid to these equivalent public officers to do the same work.
“I see Consultants getting four times the salary – they are all Engineers and sometimes some of them make a lot of mistakes and they have to learn things (about the local environment),” he said.
“When you are the local you have all the local knowledge of everything,” he added.
The Grenadian-born Engineer lamented the fact that the government of Grenada will quicker bring in somebody from outside and pay them as a Consultant to get the job done which can also be done by a homegrown Engineer.
“And when you as the local (Engineer) make a request (for more money) they feel that you shouldn’t,” he said.
According to the technical expert, the public officer working with the government as an engineer will quickly adopt the attitude that he would stay in his little corner and allow the foreign Consultant who is highly paid to do everything to earn his money.
He said that this situation with low salaries are forcing many local Engineers from staying away from employment with the government.
“They prefer to stay out in the private sector and still even if they have to scrunt for some time, they prefer to do that,” he remarked.
The Engineer spoke of known cases in which government will purchase new vehicles for foreign consultants, provide housing for them along a high salary to do the same work that a local Engineer is capable of doing for the State.
Locals, he said, get only their monthly salary and nothing else like housing and vehicle allowance.
The Grenadian-born experienced Engineer stated that the Congress government needs to address the situation in which a young female engineer is currently put in the position of CTO “to hold the fort” in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.
He said the CTO should be someone who is “knowledgeable enough” and that “anybody who come young and green you don’t want to put them” to hold down such a key position in the Public Service.
Two previous Congress governments were able to get funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) to recruit experienced non-nationals to serve as CTO in the Ministry of Public Utilities.