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PM Gonsalves to hold meeting with SVGTU, PSU

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The Prime Minister will hold a meeting today with St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) and the Public Service Union (PSU) to discuss a proposal the unions have put forward for compensation for three years in which their members received no salary increases.{{more}}

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said it will cost the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) over $25 million if they agree to the unions’ proposal.

In January 2015, the SVGTU and the PSU wrote to Gonsalves as Minister of Finance, proposing that their members be paid one month’s salary tax free, within the first quarter of 2015 as compensation for not having received salary increases between 2011 and 2014.

The letter was signed by the presidents of the PSU and the SVGTU.

According to the Finance Minister, the basic proposal would cost the Government $20.5 million, which includes salaries for one month at $18.3 million, wages for one month at $1.6 million, plus the Government’s contribution to the National Insurance Services which is $600,000.

“The cost will increase by an amount of $2.4 million if pensioners are included. The normal thing is when we give salary increases, the pensioners also get that,” Gonsalves explained.

“That will be 22.9 million. And they say it’s a one-off payment and they want it tax free. Well the tax which will be forgone is $2.2 million, so you have to add a further $2.2 million.

While expressing his wish for everyone to understand the situation, the Prime Minister said although he is Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, it is not his money; he is only the custodian.

“I am the custodian; I am the person who has to look after all the pennies and cents, shillings and dollars which are collected.”(BK)

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