Categorized | Local, News, Regional

ST. LUCIA PM agonises over ways to cut fiscal deficit

Dr Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St. Lucia

Dr. Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St. Lucia

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC – The St. Lucia government says it is important to reach a consensus with the public sector unions on ways of dealing with the current EC$76 million (One EC Dollar = US$0.37 cents) fiscal deficit

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony says an agreement will be the best signal that can be sent to the financial markets.

Anthony, who is also Finance Minister, had proposed a five per cent cut in the salaries of public servants as a way of helping to deal with the crisis, but this has been rejected by the unions.

Just recently he wrote to the unions expressing the government’s willingness to activate a government negotiating team (GNT), but said he is still awaiting a response.
“There are times I really wish I can explain to the people how difficult and how hard it is for me ideologically and otherwise.

“I go to bed sometimes and remember that I was a former president of the St Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU) and fought for increased wages for teachers in my time, and here I am at the crossroads dealing with a very difficult situation,” Anthony said.

However he noted that in all major decisions, politicians have to make a judgment as to whether what they are doing is the right thing.

“I have agonised over it and I know in my heart it’s the right thing,” the Prime Minister said.

Anthony observed that he may go down in the history of the SLTU as the leader who may have betrayed the leadership of the union that he once led, nevertheless he said it was a price he was willing to pay for his country.

At the same time, Anthony said there is value in reaching a consensus.

“There is benefit to be gained if we can agree to move forward,” he said, but added that while he is seeking to persuade the unions to make sacrifices, if the effort fails he will have to exercise “the burden of leadership” that was entrusted to him.

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Federation, (TUF) is preparing to break its silence on the ongoing impasse.

A union spokesman confirmed that the TUF, which does not include the powerful  Civil Service Association (CSA), plan to hand government a list of its own proposals by Wednesday.

This would represent a response to a letter from Anthony in which he listed two agenda items he wants the discussions to be centred on, salaries and conditions of work and expenditure reduction and wage adjustment.

However the unions remain displeased with Anthony’s insistence that the latter be separate items on the agenda, claiming that the discussion on salaries would involve wage adjustments hence the separation of the two is unnecessary.

All public sector unions have already rejected government’s five per cent wage cut and a three year wage freeze, which government said would help raise EC$18 million.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Dr Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St. Lucia

Dr. Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St. Lucia

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC – The St. Lucia government says it is important to reach a consensus with the public sector unions on ways of dealing with the current EC$76 million (One EC Dollar = US$0.37 cents) fiscal deficit

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony says an agreement will be the best signal that can be sent to the financial markets.

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Anthony, who is also Finance Minister, had proposed a five per cent cut in the salaries of public servants as a way of helping to deal with the crisis, but this has been rejected by the unions.

Just recently he wrote to the unions expressing the government’s willingness to activate a government negotiating team (GNT), but said he is still awaiting a response.
“There are times I really wish I can explain to the people how difficult and how hard it is for me ideologically and otherwise.

“I go to bed sometimes and remember that I was a former president of the St Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU) and fought for increased wages for teachers in my time, and here I am at the crossroads dealing with a very difficult situation,” Anthony said.

However he noted that in all major decisions, politicians have to make a judgment as to whether what they are doing is the right thing.

“I have agonised over it and I know in my heart it’s the right thing,” the Prime Minister said.

Anthony observed that he may go down in the history of the SLTU as the leader who may have betrayed the leadership of the union that he once led, nevertheless he said it was a price he was willing to pay for his country.

At the same time, Anthony said there is value in reaching a consensus.

“There is benefit to be gained if we can agree to move forward,” he said, but added that while he is seeking to persuade the unions to make sacrifices, if the effort fails he will have to exercise “the burden of leadership” that was entrusted to him.

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Federation, (TUF) is preparing to break its silence on the ongoing impasse.

A union spokesman confirmed that the TUF, which does not include the powerful  Civil Service Association (CSA), plan to hand government a list of its own proposals by Wednesday.

This would represent a response to a letter from Anthony in which he listed two agenda items he wants the discussions to be centred on, salaries and conditions of work and expenditure reduction and wage adjustment.

However the unions remain displeased with Anthony’s insistence that the latter be separate items on the agenda, claiming that the discussion on salaries would involve wage adjustments hence the separation of the two is unnecessary.

All public sector unions have already rejected government’s five per cent wage cut and a three year wage freeze, which government said would help raise EC$18 million.