by Zena Henry
Under intense pressure from the opposition to justify higher salaries for ministers and parliamentarians, government on Wednesday backed down from the pay hike but said there would have to be different pay-scales for the Vice Presidents and ministers.
The announcement came Wednesday July 5 during Cabinet’s weekly press briefing hosted by Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman.
The minister explained that the increases are necessary, but could not say when this will actually happen. He noted however that increases for public servants are being reviewed by Professor Harold Lutchman.
However with budget just days away, this means that government will not get their increases this year, and could insinuate that a final figure for public servant increases would not be part of the 2015 budget.
However Minister of Finance Winston Jordan clarified that Lutchman has just started on his review of the public sector, which is a broad overview that does not include only the financial aspects of the public arm. He said Lutchman’s review, “will in no way impact,” what the government is proposing this year to the public sector.
He refused to give figures before Budget Day, but confirmed that increases for public workers are already stated in the 2015 financial statement.
Reports surfaced last week that the government intended to increase their salary by as much as a 100 percent and over. Trotman categorically denied this, describing the floating figures as “grossly inflated.” The bashing the government was getting for this increase surrounded what they allegedly wanted to pay themselves in comparison to what could be a way less than 20 percent increase for public servants; a figure suggested by the opposition party.
Trotman noted however that in relation to government’s pay increase, “there has to be differentiation between Vice Presidents, senior and junior ministers.” None of these were catered for in the last 20 years or so and as a matter of law they will have to be adjustments, Trotman confirmed.
He said two proposals by independent persons have been brought to government to address the necessary adjustment.
Lutchman’s broad based review of the public service, according to Jordan, addresses work conditions, pay among other issues and will be completed in a matter of months, Trotman said. No mention was made of any push for government to have these increases in the 2016 budget.
The PPP had questioned the affordability and logic of increasing parliamentarians’ salaries, while offering government employees a meagre hike.