We will have to borrow to pay the salary increases | Additional News
Unless it borrows huge sums of money, the government will not be able to afford the wage increases demanded by the unions representing public servants.
So said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Speaking at a town hall meeting in Arima on Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister said a 4% raise – 2% for each of the two collective bargaining periods – would cost $1.45 billion in back pay and an additional cost of $730 million more to public servant salaries for each successive year in perpetuity.
“The question is: is it sustainable? he asked.
“Let’s be generous and say we give 8% – 4% plus 4%. That would cost $3.6 billion in back pay and an additional annual cost of $1.4 billion. Do you see that money in the treasury in Trinidad and Tobago this time Do you see the Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago being able to come up with that money on a monthly basis to make sure that you (civil servants) with jobs are paid at the end of the month?” said the Prime Minister.
“We will have to borrow money and if we do it on this scale, in this way, and the price of oil and the price of gas change, we jump in the dark,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that circumstances beyond the control of this country – (i.e. the war in Ukraine) – have led to abnormally high oil prices and some improvement in the price of gas, which has allowed the government to receive a little more money than expected…about $4 billion, which is the increase outside of what we budgeted. But you would have seen that we went to Parliament last week and added to the 2022 budget, $3.1 billion (additional spending) to be paid out of that $4 billion (additional revenue),” he said. he declares.
Having already spent $3 billion of the $4 billion. The war (in Ukraine) stops. It might drag on a bit longer, we don’t know. Of the 4.2 billion dollars, we are already spending 3.1. Say we have $1 billion left, the backlog at 4% would be $1.45 billion. Do you know what that means? We have to go and borrow $450 million to pay off these arrears.” He said the government may or may not do it, but “let it work out.”
PM: We know people under pressure
He said that although the government had indicated that part of the windfall would go to civil servants, it had to determine what was affordable.
“We have to make a reasonable offer to the officials because we don’t need anyone to tell us the pressure that the people of this country, like the officials, have been under. We were the ones who said we weren’t going. at the IMF we will prescribe our own medicine giving us the ability to do what no IMF program allows us to do We have not fired a single official…because we said the first objective was people keep their jobs. Second, the goal is that at the end of the month we have the money to pay you. And third goal, as soon as we can, we’ll improve your earning power. C ‘is the order in which the government And if we end up in a situation where we put (goal) number three ahead of number one, then you know what’s going on there,’ he said. The most important thing is to keep all the jobs in place, said the Prime Min ist. “We have a bit of a break now. I said don’t overreact, don’t get carried away,” he said.
“Because we all know what is happening in Ukraine could be temporary. More than likely it will be temporary. Because the war in Ukraine has driven the biggest oil exporter and one of the biggest gas exporters- If something happens that changes this situation, then this pressure for the high price will disappear and the price of oil will fall,” he said. “If tomorrow the Russians tried to stop the war, this pressure on the price of oil would be reduced; if tomorrow the Saudis decide that we have made enough money from this special arrangement and that they are going to pump more oil; or if tomorrow the Venezuelans came back to the market, this (high price) disappeared. We are therefore in a temporary situation motivated only by the fact that the Russian offer was expelled from the market as a sanction for Russian behavior in Ukraine. So if we’re going to cut our fabrics to suit these prices that exist today, when the turnaround comes, we could end up with parts of our bodies exposed because the fabric wasn’t cut properly,” a- he declared.
PM: No increases for ministers, deputies.
The Prime Minister dismissed claims that the political leadership and Parliament looked after themselves and got a pay rise and said there were no proposals before Parliament for raises for the ministers and deputies.
“For the benefit of the media that speaks to the public, let me tell you what the facts are. The last time MPs and ministers got a pay rise was in March 2014 from recommendations in November 2013 of the 98th report of the Salary Review Board,” he said “And I can tell you that there is no report before Parliament pending for any increase in MPs. And I have to also remind you that when I became Prime Minister of this country, and in the face of the economic calamity and loss of revenue that we faced, I made a public commitment to the country that there would be no salary increase for MPs until the economy recovers,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that just as the government was about to balance the budget, came Covid. “There will be no pay rises for members of the executive, cabinet or members of parliament until the economy can take care of them. the same thing I say to the unions, I told my colleagues in Cabinet and my colleagues in Parliament upfront,” he said, adding that he was consistent on this issue.
Noting that someone claimed he was afraid of a union march, the Prime Minister said he had no such fear. “What I have is trust in the good sense of the good people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said. The Prime Minister said one thing he could give assurance on is that the country has a government in place that is aware of the plight of the people and is responsible and would provide the best relief the country can afford.
The prime minister said when his government took office it had to borrow money to pay the pay rises, which included $6 billion in salary arrears, which had been accepted by the administration graduating from UNC. I want to ask a question: are you the people of Trinidad and Tobago telling the government to do the same thing again? “Tell me! I’m listening!” he asked, to which the crowd shouted “No”.
The Prime Minister indicated that after having “given $852 million” (to the OAS by changing a clause in the contract for the Point Fortin highway), UNC now wanted to drive officials to a place of milk and of honey and called on unions to mobilize their members to march. “As if it would somehow give more resources to the Minister of Finance. The Prime Minister said that in negotiations there is a high position and a low position and the purpose of negotiation is to arrive at a point intermediary where the two parties could agree or where the negotiations cannot go further.