JIS News

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips says the implementation of pension reform will have to begin this fiscal year.

Dr. Phillips, who was speaking to JIS News in an interview on September 14, said the reform, which is an essential element of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, now under consideration, will likely begin early in the first quarter of 2013.

The Finance Minister said that the Parliamentary Committee that has been dealing with pension reform had its final meeting last week and is currently preparing a report to be considered by Parliament.

Addressing the issue of cutting the public sector wage bill, Dr. Phillips acknowledged that this is also key.  He noted that the workers have industrial bargaining agreements with the government and that out of respect, there needs to be further dialogue.

"There is a body of opinion that seems to think, and fortunately it is not as widespread, that unless you have riots or unless you cause pain to the most vulnerable and powerless in a callous way, then you are not serious enough. We are prepared to talk with the workers; they are already having it hard making ends meet. Somebody can say throw them out on the unemployment pile. That is not our view…. We believe that respect is due," the Minister said.

"If needs be and there is need for further measures, other than wage restraint or if that doesn't work, then the trade off is simple, either you have employment or you have wage restraint," the Finance Minister said.

Dr. Phillips emphasised that Government funds are limited, so wage restraint is necessary.