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Government closes down information department


Government closes down information department

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PORT OF SPAIN – Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie has confirmed that the Keith Rowley government has taken a decision to shut down the financially plagued Government Information Services Limited (GISL).

Cuffie, a former employee of GISL, said the company has been losing money, with its assets exceeding liabilities by TT$19 million. 

“We have been spending TT$14 million to keep it going,” Cuffie said hours after meeting with the employees on Monday. The closure will result in at least 60 employees becoming unemployed. 

Cuffie said that a new board will be appointed by the Ministry of Finance to oversee the winding up process and will determine the benefits for the employees.

“It pained me to do this. It was a painful decision for me because I worked there and I hired a number of them there, but it is something that needs to be done. Media companies have been experiencing difficult times and this is generally a cause of concern,” Cuffie said.

In a 2016 report on the future of the Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG) and GISL, it was recommended that GISL be dissolved, its television station TV4 be disposed of and all contract work be ceased.

It also found that GISL and the Government Information Services Department (GISD) provided the same services and that GISL should be dissolved as a limited liability company and GISD restructured to co-ordinate the implementation of government’s information policy and provide services aligned with that particular function, as well as to support ministries and departments with the dissemination of information.

Cuffie said that GISL would be shut down on September 30.

Meanwhile, the government also announced that 106 workers from the on the On-the-Job Training Programme (OJTP) have started receiving severance payments as part of the final phase of a restructuring of the programme.

A release from the Ministry of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprise Development said the restructured OJTP, will result in “a new, streamlined organisational structure that removes the duplication in several support unit areas at both the ministry and the OJT programme”. 

It said that this new structure has 14 positions and provides for 62 employees, of whom 40 will be employed on contract and 22 will be on the ministry’s staff. The 22 were previously employed by the former OJTP.

The OJT Programme was established in 2002, to provide people between 16 and 35 with an opportunity to gain practical experience in the workplace and assist in the development of professional and interpersonal skills necessary for success. 

The government said that the restructured OJTP “will therefore place emphasis on a robust training and certification programme and implement a more effective placement procedure with emphasis on quality as opposed to quantity.” (CMC)