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Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding has explained that if the Government is to pay the reclassification monies to some of the public sector groups, the wage bill will become unmanageable.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the launch of the 2009 Compensation and Benefits Report of Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), yesterday (September 8), in Kingston.
Mr. Golding said the reclassification of the health sector, which was submitted last week, will cost the country $15 billion.
“We have said we’ll begin with the teachers and start paying the reclassified rates. A time for it to be paid will have to be worked out as it cannot be absorbed at any one time. When you look at the impact of those two, in addition to the 15 per cent that was granted last year, you’re talking about a wage bill that is in the region of $127 billion,” Mr. Golding said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that for the Government to pay this amount, it would have to borrow. “When we borrow, interest rates remain high and small businesses die or don’t get to be born, because they can’t be born in that sort of interest rate environment. This means that over the next few years, we will have to trim and cut and get the Government’s appetite back in line with the Government’s pocket,” he said.
Mr. Golding added that he has the full support of the Cabinet in doing what has to be done, if the country is to have a chance to recover and grow.
“I long for that day when we have an instrument that has matured and instead of going to the market to borrow, I can say to the market thank you very much for the five billion dollars we needed three years ago and you lent it to us for three years, but here is your five billion dollars, I don’t need to borrow back again. The day that we get to that point, this country will begin to breathe and have a chance of going forward,” the Prime Minister said.

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