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IMF advises Government to contain wage bill


While Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves plans to raise the salaries of certain government workers in the coming year, officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have declared that the containment of wages for workers is something that must happen, in order to better manage the fiscal situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

During his independence address, the Prime Minister announced that there will be provisions in the upcoming budget for a wage increase for certain government workers, which include janitors and school cooks.

The Prime Minister, in a press conference on Tuesday with officials from the IMF, reiterated that these wages were just too low.

“We increased them about three or so years ago, but they are still too low and the public servants will understand that it is necessary and desirable for governments to address those,” Gonsalves said.

He said although the Government has a very good school feeding programme, a cook in the school feeding programme gets EC$442 a month.

“That is a very low wage and we have to do something about that. We can’t be a civilized people and allow persons to be working for those kinds of monies,” he said.

IMF advisor with responsibility in the Western Hemisphere Elie Canetti noted that the Government has been “fairly careful” in containing wages within the country.

He further highlighted some issues over the years which have negatively impacted the economy of this country, including several natural disasters, the world economic crisis and CLICO/BAICO fiasco.

“All that says that you’ve faced a lot of challenges, to some extent; that means that the standard of living is not going to be as high as it would be otherwise,” Canetti said.

“We think containing the wage bill is something that will have to happen, will have to stay in place until you are able to bring your debt levels down.”

He added that it is not expected that debt levels will be reduced in the next number of years, as the Government still has to spend a lot of money on reconstruction, due to previous natural disasters, as well as on ongoing projects within the country, such as the Argyle international airport.(BK)