KINGSTON — Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, says that despite the challenges in accommodating increased salaries for public sector workers, ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will ensure that the agreement is honoured without increasing taxation.
"We made a decision that we would pay public sector workers the arrears that we owe them, that’s a lot of money; $10 billion more for this year, $30 billion cumulatively over the next two years. That represents 2.3 percent of a percentage of Gross Domestic Product: It must have some impact,” Mr. Shaw explained.
He said that because of the challenges, the Government has had to ‘wheel and come again’, by talking with the IMF about the medium term and how to accommodate the additional expenditure without increasing taxes.
"We are revising the Budget, we are going to have to make budgetary cuts, and it is going to create sacrifices,” the Minister, who will explain the details of the issues on Sunday evening in a national broadcast, told the monthly meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, at the Christiana Branch Library on Thursday, August 4.
[Click for Minister Shaw National Broadcast: Jamaica's Economic Programme – Current Issues]
Mr. Shaw congratulated the public sector workers and their trade unions for the restraint and patriotism shown during the recently concluded negotiations. He also called on the business community, other stakeholders and the Opposition to echo the understanding that the world is facing a fiscal crisis, and that messages of panic can only jeopardize Jamaica’s economic gains.
"I want to invite my new shadow Minister of Finance, Dr. Peter Phillips, to join with me on that crusade. There is a critical role for the Opposition, let it be a constructive role, that is the context and the whole purpose of the loyal Opposition,” he told the gathering.
Citing the recent near debt-default in the United States, Mr. Shaw said Jamaica is on a stable path, and the current challenges can be negotiated through dialogue, when the national good is placed above all other interests.
By GARFIELD L. ANGUS, JIS Reporter