Economic Affairs Minister Oliver Joseph has said that Government will sign the Letter of Intent to implement the Homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme with support from the International Monetary Fund by the end of February, even if the Trade Unions fail to reach an agreement with regard to a three year wage freeze.
“We are still trying to get an agreement with the union; a consensus for in best interest of all,” said Joseph, who explained that if there is no agreement, the letter of intent will be signed by the end of February. The Technical and Allied Workers Union and the Public Workers Union — two of the unions which represent government workers, are scheduled to meet with membership during the week to seek their guidance on the signing of the letter.
Joseph said that Government has given the assurance that there will be no job loss once the programme is in effect, but that promise can only be a reality only if the unions accept the wage freeze.
“If the Government was to go ahead and sign without an assurance from the unions that there will be no increase in salaries for the period of the three year programme which commences officially as of 1 January 2014, then Government will have to use the option of retrenching workers in order to reduce on Government’s monthly wage bill,” he said during Tuesday’s post cabinet briefing.
“This is not a threat — we are not coercing anyone. What we are expressing are real facts,” said Education Minister Anthony Boatswain, who explained that if Government doesn’t go through with the structural adjustment programme, there will be some uneasiness with regard to the social and economic development of Grenada.
“If we don’t go through with the programme, it will be total chaos. We will have a country to run with no money,” he said while explaining that once the letter of intent is signed with the IMF, Government will receive grants and other financial and technical support from institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Union and the World Bank.
Pleading for all the relevant stakeholders to join in the efforts to reorganise the island’s fiscal situation, Boatswain who is a former Finance Minister, said that there is need for everyone’s contribution towards solving the problem. “This is a national issue; it’s not a polarised issue, it’s not a yellow or green issue. It’s a national issue that needs national attention,” he said.