The Government of Grenada has fulfilled its promise to meet with unions representing public workers as it seeks to arrive at a date to honour payment of the 4% salary increase to public officers.
In keeping with this, it met with representatives of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) on Friday, 16 April 2021 to review Government’s fiscal performance at the end of the first quarter.
Leader of the Government Negotiating Team (GNT), Hon. Oliver Joseph said Government is committed to its promise to pay the 4% increase, but it cannot state a definitive date for payment, given the country’s weak fiscal performance as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He pointed out that recurrent revenue, Government’s source of funds for the wage bill, continues to be significantly impacted by the pandemic.
However, the GUT, which was led at Friday’s meeting by immediate past president Marvin Andall, maintained its position that it expects payment to be made by the end of May 2021 and stated that it will continue with protest action until a date is given for payment of the 4%.
Attendees at Friday’s meeting received a detailed summary of the economic performance from Mike Sylvester Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance.
Pointing to the country’s dire economic situation, Sylvester revealed that more than EC $8.5 million have been spent than initially programmed, and Government has spent EC $0.3 million more than it collected in total revenues and grants, up to the end of the first quarter.
In addition, there has been a significant weakening of the country’s fiscal situation, and an increase in the debt to GDP ratio. The Permanent Secretary also said growth in 2021 will be on a low base, given the significant downturn in economic activity in 2020.
During Friday’s meeting, the Ministry of Finance also made a number of recommendations that can help to cushion the effects of the global pandemic. These include accelerating the implementation rate of the Public Sector Investment Programme to support economic recovery, containing recurrent spending and creating space to support capital expenditure.
While Government acknowledges its contractual obligation, it has requested a deferral in payment of the increase given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s revenue earnings. The situation remains deadlocked. The Labour Commissioner is expected to make a recommendation by the end of April.