Finance Minister Announces Consultations to Settle Outstanding Sums


Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has announced plans to begin formal consultations with various public sector groups, as the Ministry seeks to arrive at an agreement regarding the settlement of outstanding sums owed to them.
The Minister made the announcement, today (April 8), as he opened the 2010/11 Budget Debate, in the House of Representatives.
He noted that the Government has been exploring ways to meet the wage obligations without jeopardising the country’s ability to meet quarterly International Monetary Fund (IMF) tests.
Under the recently signed IMF agreement, the Government has committed to maintaining the current wage freeze for a further two years; to pay increases, which have been agreed to but have not yet been paid, over the medium term of four years; and to better align new compensation agreements to ensure the Government’s objective of reducing the public sector wage bill over the next four years.
Mr. Shaw restated the Government’s intention to satisfy outstanding amounts due to all public sector groups, but said the payments would have to be accommodated over at least three fiscal years.
“In the meantime, I appeal to all public sector groups to carefully weigh and consider the state of the country’s finances, to consider our agreement with the IMF, which is designed to improve the country’s fiscal and monetary health, and to work with the Government in resolving public sector wage issues in an atmosphere of understanding, of peace and harmony,” he implored.
The Minister disclosed that the formal consultations are set to begin within a few weeks.
The outstanding sums that are due this financial year total $9.4 billion, with the greatest share, $4 billion, owed to teachers. Another $2.32 billion is owed for general allowances to the civil service; $1.3 billion owed to the Jamaica Defence Force and
$1 billion to the island’s nurses. The remaining sum is owed to contract police personnel, staff of the Norman Manley Law School and the West Indies Group of University Teachers.

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