No adjustments being considered to public servants’ salaries – PM
No discussions have started in relation to adjustments to public servants’ pay in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), even while other governments in the region are struggling with their salary bills amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
And Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says that he doesn’t foresee layoffs or salary cuts here in SVG.
The prime minister was responding to a question posed on We FM’s ‘Issues at Hand’ programme on Sunday, April 20 about whether conversations were taking place in relation adjusting public servants’ pay, time of work, hiring, and other issues.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I have to try to make sure that every month, I have the $30 million to pay public servants, to pay the pensioners, to pay for NIS contributions for those who are working and the like,” he said, while noting that the country’s revenue has already begun falling significantly.
Gonsalves said the Government has had to re-prioritise many things in the $1.2 billion 2020 budget which was approved in February 2020.
However, he noted that his government was able to maintain salary payments every month after the global economic meltdown in the 2009-2011 period when other countries in the region were making late payouts.
And so when asked about layoffs and salary cuts in a worst case scenario, the prime minister said “I don’t see that…you looking at something close to the apocalypse when we begin to talk like that”.
The Daily Observer in Antigua on Monday, April 20 reported that the Antiguan Government’s revenues would not meet this month’s salary expenses.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne is reported as saying that estimates indicate that the government will only raise 25 of the 80 million in revenue projected for the month of April.
And as a result, they may have to borrow money to pay salaries and wages.
According to Lionel Hurst, chief of staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Antiguan government spends between 30 and 32 million per month in pensions, salaries, wages and emoluments.
Similarly, reports also indicate that the St Lucian Government, in a meeting with the St Lucia Trade Union Federation, this month said that public servants may have to forego between 35 and 60 per cent of their salaries.
Other countries in the region are said to be having similar conversations.
“I haven’t uttered any such words and I have to try and hold everything,” Gonsalves said on radio last Sunday.