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  • The Government is reiterating that in order to maintain the targeted wage to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio and remain fiscally responsible, it is unable to accede to the requests of the nation’s teachers.
  • “Our teachers have asked for an increase of $60,000 per annum in the book and software allowance. If this is granted, it would cost $1.7 billion,” State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said.
  • Mr. Spencer noted that while the Government acknowledges the need for more resources for the teachers, “there is simply no room to absorb any further increase at this time, given the imperative to get nine per cent wage to GDP”.

The Government is reiterating that in order to maintain the targeted wage to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio and remain fiscally responsible, it is unable to accede to the requests of the nation’s teachers.

“Our teachers have asked for an increase of $60,000 per annum in the book and software allowance. If this is granted, it would cost $1.7 billion,” State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said.

He was making a Statement during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday (March 14).

Mr. Spencer noted that while the Government acknowledges the need for more resources for the teachers, “there is simply no room to absorb any further increase at this time, given the imperative to get nine per cent wage to GDP”.

“We are asking our teachers to exercise patience and tolerance of the Government’s current position as we work to build a stronger, more robust and resilient economy. This would allow us to provide more in the future,” he said.

“We are urging our teachers to hold strain. We know the hard work that is involved, we know the conditions under which they work. Most of all, we know their value. We truly do. We would love to grant all that our teachers ask, but we must meet the wage to GDP of nine per cent as part of our fiscal responsibility framework,” the State Minister said.

Regarding the wage negotiations cycle, Mr. Spencer said all unions came up for review at the same time.

He noted that given the current negotiations cycle, it is simply impossible for the Government to satisfy all the requests of each group, adding that this would derail the Government’s economic reform efforts.

Mr. Spencer further argued that despite the unique set of circumstances faced by teachers, to accede to their requests at this time would mean that similar consideration would have to be given to all public-sector groups.

“This forms part of the reason that a review of the negotiations schedule is necessary at this time. The current two-year cycle, with one year already gone, does not allow for the Government to do all the things that are necessary to address the unions’ claims,” Mr. Spencer said.

He explained that streamlining the cycles into a four-year term would allow room for the Government to complete talks with each group independently and allow better and deeper consideration to be paid to the issues of each group of workers.

Additionally, he said it would allow for better planning on both sides and for implementation of the reforms.

Meanwhile, Mr Spencer said the Government is strategically trying to craft a more efficient system by which it can effectively handle the claims of each group.