JIS News

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says the signing of an agreement with public sector unions, has provided a level of certainty in the wage bill, without which there would be no deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He said the IMF is “concerned that there should be little risk of surprises” which would require sharply higher expenditure on the part of the Government over the period.

The workers’ commitment to wage restraint, over the next three years, provides a certainty as to the trajectory of the wage bill, he stated.

In addition to the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), approximately 20 other unions representing public sector workers, signed the Heads of Agreement for the 2012-2015 contract period on Wednesday, March 6, at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Dr. Phillips said that with the signing, the country has substantially crossed the last remaining barrier to securing a financing agreement with the IMF.

“Today’s signing marks, for us, a point of conclusion, once we get all the other groups who have already committed to sign, of the prior action requirements,” he stated.

The Finance Minister pointed out that the agreement takes into account the realities of the country’s economic situation. He commended the public sector workers, noting that the agreement “represents a supreme act of patriotism”.

He also hailed the bond holders, whom he said, made a similar sacrifice by participating in the National Debt Exchange (NDX).

Dr. Phillips said the wage agreement is based on commitments by the Government in relation to non wage issues, including improvements in the working conditions and training for public sector workers.

The Government has also agreed to effectively carry out its responsibilities under the Economic Reform Programme as well as ensure growth and job creation in the Jamaican economy.

In the meantime, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, with responsibility for the Public Service, Hon. Horace Dalley, who led negotiations on behalf of the Government, said there is an Omnibus Clause in the Heads of Agreement, which requires that all other matters that there might be discrepancy about, will be resolved within 60 days.

“This goes to the good faith and trust that has been developed with the unions,” he stated.