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MANDEVILLE — Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, says that the Government has made the best possible wage offer to public sector workers, noting that the administration can do no more in light of fiscal constraints.

He was speaking on June 28 at the Annual General Meeting of the National People’s Co-operative Bank held at the Kendal Conference Centre in Manchester.

He pointed out that the proposal on the table is being offered “at great sacrifice” in light of obligations under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement.

“We have tried our best; it is very challenging because we have a standby agreement with the IMF. I can say to all of the public sector groups that this is being done at great sacrifice. There are other areas of the budget that are going to have to be amended in order to accommodate this agreement with the public sector,” he stated.

Minister Shaw said he was pleased that most of the trade unions “have already signed on, or indicated that they are accepting the proposal of the Government,” and called on those groups still holding out to remember that the economy must be protected.

He stressed that the Government must maintain strong fiscal management to generate growth and employment. “The macro economic climate in Jamaica is stable; that can provide the basis for greater confidence to invest in the economy (and) when you do all of those things, you generate employment, and you generate growth in the economy,” he pointed out.

He argued that any loosing up of Government spending “will see interest rates going out of line, where investors will lose confidence and return the business sector to a period of uncertainty”.

“The fiscal expenditure of Government must be contained, because if you don’t contain Government expenditure you are going to have to borrow more, and when you borrow more the interest rate is going to go up. Our deficit is under control and I have to hold the brakes on public expenditure, so that we keep our interest rates under control,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister commended the PC Bank for catering to the farming sector, and providing it with reasonable loans.

“The National People’s Co-operative Bank is playing a valuable role in our economy and in the agricultural sector. I applaud the Bank for offering business development loans to farmers at interest rates as low as 10 per cent per annum on the reducing balance,” he stated.

 

By GARFIELD L. ANGUS, JIS Reporter