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SVGTU wants assurances on recent Gov’t/IMF agreement


The St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) has called on the Govern­ment to give assurance that a recent agreement between the Govern­ment and the Interna­tional Monetary Fund (IMF) does not interfere with the established terms and conditions for teachers and other public servants.{{more}}

The Union, in a release dated August 17, said they have been notified of undertakings made by Government in the recent agreement.

“We are all too cognizant of the negative consequences of such arrangements for public sector workers especially teachers,” the release said.

On August 1, 2014, the IMF approved a disbursement of US$6.4 million for St Vincent and the Grenadines to be drawn equally from the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) and the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) at US$3.2 million each.

“This disbursement will help the country meet an urgent balance-of-payments need due to severe flooding and landslides in December 2013 that caused massive damage to infrastructure, housing and agriculture,” press release No. 14/383 from the IMF said.

“Rehabilitation and reconstruction spending is expected to widen the fiscal deficit this year. Mindful of the high and growing public debt, the authorities have reiterated their intention to rely mainly on grants and concessional resources to finance the recovery. At the same time, they will step up their efforts to mobilize budgetary resources by increasing revenue collection, containing the wage bill, and reducing transfers to state-owned enterprises,” the IMF release said.

The teachers union also expressed concern about what they say appears to be “a unilateral wage freeze imposed on workers since 2011.”

The release from the SVGTU said “Moreover, current media reports suggest that the Government has not been up-to-date with its contributions to the NIS (National Insurance Services) on behalf of its employees. The SVGTU also views, with deep concern these reports pertaining to the status of Government NIS contributions. Teachers are anxious, and wish to be assured that contributions to the NIS are up-to-date and that retirement benefits are intact and available when due. The SVGTU therefore calls on the Government to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders on these and related issues.”

When Parliament meets today, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves will move a resolution to raise a loan of $15 million from the National Insurance Fund to liquidate outstanding contributions owed by the Government to the National Insurance Fund.

According to the release from the IMF, the Government has indicated their intention to “carry out civil service and pension reforms, which will boost competitiveness and employment.”