JIS News

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Dwight Nelson, has said that the Government is facing the possibility of a “significant increase” in the 2009/10 public sector wage bill.
Addressing journalists at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, on February 11, Senator Nelson informed that the cost of the wage bill up to the end of the 2008/09 fiscal year, on March 31, would amount to $111 billion. He said that with the anticipated significant increase, the administration would have to “reconcile that with its fiscal problems,” against the background of the current global economic downturn.
“There is a seven per cent (additional) increase that arises out of the (public sector) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). There are increases that are going to kick in from agreements with the teachers, some $7 billion or $8 billion. There are increases that are going to kick in from agreements with the police. There is the whole question of a reclassification of the health sector – you are talking about some $4 billion. There is (also) the question of increases in wages and fringe benefits to the Nurses Association of Jamaica, which haven’t even started yet. So there is, on the horizon, a potential for a very significant increase on that $111 billion, ” the Minister outlined, adding that the precise figure has not yet been calculated.
In response to questions about reported challenges currently being experienced by some Government entities in paying salaries, as the 2008/09 financial year draws to a close, Senator Nelson said payments are being met.
“I think we have been meeting the wage demands. We have not been having problems of inability to pay or to provide funding for same. The machinery may be slow in one or two instances, but in terms of Government’s ability to pay, there really is no challenge. The Minister of Finance, Audley Shaw, has been excellent in his management of the economy and finances, so as to ensure that we are able to pay our bills, including wages and salaries,” Senator Nelson said.