Is nation ready for possible shutdown?

Mary Isaac has spoken, presumably with the voice of the Civil Service Association to which presidency she was recently elected: “If he takes the five percent, we will be left no other choice but to shut the country down!”

CSA president Mary Isaac: Will the cuts at all cost prime minister have his way with her this month?

CSA president Mary Isaac: Will the cuts at all cost prime minister have his way with her this month?

Isaac’s promise arrives amidst reliable if unofficial talk making the rounds, that the government intends as of next month to slash public sector salaries.

On Thursday Isaac admitted she too had heard the bad news. The unconfirmed word is that the minister of finance, who is also the country’s prime minister, was pressing forward with an earlier expressed intention to readjust public services wages.

“All along we’ve been anticipating this move by the government,” Isaac said during an exclusive STAR interview. “All of this talk about consultations and requests for proposals from the unions and civil society has been nothing short of a sham. The government has never shown any interest in counter proposals or ideas aimed at reducing the fiscal deficit. Their only interest has been in cutting public sector salaries, regardless of the rising cost of living.”

Back in January 2013 Prime Minister Kenny Anthony had said: “Whereas other Caribbean states might have a fiscal deficit of seven to eight percent of GDP we are climbing up to 10 per cent. That’s a warning sign, so we have really got to ensure we bring it under some degree of control and resolve those differences.”

A four percent public sector wage increase in 2013 obviously had failed to solve the “differences.”

The country is facing an EC$76 million fiscal deficit, which the government said in May had to be reduced if the country was to escape the IMF.

Even before a related discussion with the workers’ unions, the reduction was reflected in the prime minister’s latest budget, a situation that has generated much dissent between government and the unions.

The matter has since then been presented to the various unions and associations, all of which have flatly rejected government’s five percent cut and a three-year wage freeze proposal.

“We are not in the business of negotiating deficits with governments,” Isaac has said. “Our job is to sit and discuss proposals for better working conditions,  better wages and benefits for our members.”

Additionally: “The prime minister has all of his consultants and technocrats, as well as some of the best qualified civil servants within his ministry with whom he can sit and discuss possible solutions to the fiscal deficit. I am not sure he has done even that. As far as I can tell, he remains adamant that the only way out of our fiscal problems is to cut the salaries of public servants.”

Isaac is convinced that cutting public sector wages will further shrink the economy. “This will put public workers in greater trouble, some whose salaries are tied to loans and so on. It will also affect businesses, since there will be less spending power. Already several businesses have shut down or drastically reduced their staff.”

The CSA president suspects there are moves afoot to dump the public service as it presently exists. The “new design”, she says, will allow the government to bring in consultants as they see fit and by-pass the public service.
Isaac says: “Contrary to the belief in some quarters,” she is not averse to discussions with the prime minister, but not about this fiscal period.

“Before there can be any talk about cuts for this year,the prime minister should consult with us as to what can be implemented in the next budget cycle. He also needs to convince us that the only way out of going to the IMF is by cutting wages. So far he has not even attempted to do so.”

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3 Responses to Is nation ready for possible shutdown?

  1. Pam Popo says:

    We now have a new term in St. Lucia…….Kennynomics. The arts of delegating your responsibility to others while, ignoring you are part of the problem and you have resources (civil servants technocrats, consults) in your face, to address the problem..

    St. Lucia can not afford the doctrine of Kennynomics.

  2. cswaerospace says:

    Well said Sir. And, with no surprise to anyone, there is nothing to trust in Kenny Anthony. This fact is borne out in the very same VAT implemented by the SLP. They said VAT would be set at 15%. Its actually 21.5%. How is this possible? Because the 6.5% Environmental Levy was seen to be removed but was actually re-added as a consumer tax with the 15% VAT added. Therefore, Saint Lucians have been led to believe that they are paying 15% VAT when in actual fact they are paying 21.5% VAT due to this clever piece of political maneuvering by the SLP. However, unrighteousness doesn’t pay, and with due surety, the hand of reality has shown that the population cannot support VAT obligations. In addition, the stupidity of the legislation put forth where; only certain earning brackets pay VAT. This is utter madness, because it has created a stranglehold on the lower income cash flow of the population which directly impacts the mid to upper levels of income in the country. This fiscal miscalculation is the result of a profound and utterly misguided understanding of exactly how a small economy needs to work effectively. CASH FLOW = Income Stability and GDP Increase. Further, this problem is the direct result of the election of a Lawyer as Prime Minister with the resulting devious, plutocratic positioning of himself that only highlights a complete and utter ignorance of the bilateral multi-tiered involvement of the private sector working in harmony with Government to solve…

  3. kentry charles says:

    Do we really understand the situation we’re in, or is it that some people are just playing on the emotions and ignorance of others to gain political advantage? For years we’ve been in this situation of spending more than we earn, and what allowed us to continue this bad habit was our ability to borrow. We have now reached a point where that way out is no longer available. For those who insist on asking where is all the VAT money going to, the revenue collected from VAT for the year is just a little over half the cost of salaries and wages for the year. VAT is not an additional 15% on what government was already collecting before its’ implementation. So the PM did a lousy job in the way he went about doing this thing, but do we allow ourselves to go down the cliff because of that? On the current path something has got to give. There will come a time when government will not be able to meet some of its’ commitments because the cut is already included in the budget for the fiscal year. There are thousands in our society who don’t earn a monthly salary and they find lawful and creative ways to survive. Some of the people who prepare and present the figures and information are themselves members of the CSA, so if you don’t trust Kenny Anthony, speak to your members.

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