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PM shares fruits of country’s economic growth

PM shares fruits of country’s economic growth

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Public servants have been assured by this country’s Prime Minister that whether or not their jobs are “red circled,” due to reclassification, they are going to receive a minimum 10 percent salary increase.{{more}}

This, as questions were raised by Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace ealier this week on a radio programme, suggesting that some public servants may miss out on the second five percent increase, due to reclassification.

Eustace suggested that a public servant whose job has been “red circled” may not benefit from the second five percent salary increase that the Prime Minister announced during his Independence Day message.

“A lot of the jobs…lower down, a number of jobs between grade one and eight have been reclassified downward. These persons, if their salaries are frozen, how are they going to get the second five percent? There can be people who will only get five percent,” Eustace said.

But speaking to SEARCHLIGHT just before heading to Puerto Rico earlier this week, Dr Gonsalves called the suggestion nonsense, and assured public servants that the 10 percent increase is the minimum any of them will get.

Dr Gonsalves noted that the second five percent increase will be five percent of the already increased salary, due to the retroactive five percent for 2007, and whatever increase brought about by reclassification.

He said this accounts for the additional EC$ 4.63 million budgeted for the second five percent increase payout.

The first five percent, retroactive as of January 1st, 2007, will cost the Government EC$7.71 million, while the second five percent as of January 1st, 2008 will cost EC$12.34 million.The reclassification exercise will see some salaries increase a further six percent retroactively from January 2007.

This exercise, Dr Gonsalves said, will cost the government another EC$8.73 million.

“I say to public servants, we thank you very much, and we give you material recompense to show you that we love you, care for you, and thank you,” the Prime Minister said during the speech which lasted a tick under half an hour.

Thousands came out dressed in their national colours last Saturday, October 27th, for the military parade to celebrate this country’s 28th anniversary of Independence, and also heard of the close to EC$33 million worth of salary and welfare increases, Christmas bonuses, and back pay.

The Prime Minister capitalized on the well-set stage of excitement.

Challenging public servants to lift their game and become more productive, Dr Gonsalves said that the increases and other goodies announced were his government’s way of “sharing the fruits of the nation’s economic growth.”

This economic growth, he told SEARCHLIGHT, facilitated the government’s payout of what he termed during his address on Independence Day increases of “historic proportions.”

Dr Gonsalves also announced that the five percent increase from January 2008, and the retroactive increase, from January 2007, will also be paid to government daily paid workers, to the tune of EC$1 million.

He also stated that the increases are apart from the other allowances that are yet to be finalized for public servants.

“The back-pay will be paid at the end of November 2007; the bonus and the reclassification monies in the December pay packet,” he said.

The 7700 citizens who are either on old aged, disability or other forms of public support will see their allowances increased by $30.

Dr Gonsalves further announced that public servants will be given a Christmas bonus of EC$250 each. Those who have only worked up to 150 days for the year, however, will be given $125.

The bonus package will add up to EC$1.5 million, Dr Gonsalves, who is also the Minister of Finance, said.

Persons on public assistance will also receive bonuses, along with banana farmers.

The Prime Minister announced a EC$619,954 package, which will be paid out to banana farmers, on the basis of one dollar for every carton of banana they shipped from January 1st to June 30 this year.

619,954 cartons of bananas were shipped from St Vincent during this period.

He also announced the commencement of an EC$3 million road cleaning campaign for Christmas, and a tax exemption on Christmas barrels coming into the country from November 19 to December 31st, 2007.

Last year 17,000 barrels entered this country tax free, during the Christmas period, in what is now policy that Dr Gonsalves’ government initiated when they came to power in 2001.

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