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Finance Minister agrees with IMF to guard against big wage hikes

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.

Guyana’s coffers do not have sufficient money for public servants and other government employees to be paid hefty salary increases, Finance Minister Winston Jordan said Wednesday.

Ahead of negotiations with trade unions, he said they have already been told not to expect substantial wage and salary hikes.

The Finance Minister’s remarks at a news conference on Wednesday followed a word of caution by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) against substantial wage increases. “I agree with the IMF on this particular front,” he said.

While Jordan assured that government employees would receive a pay-hike before year-end, he urged them not to expect “exaggerated salaries” because they could lead to a cut in salaries or jobs in the future.

“We have to be careful when it comes to wages and expectations on wages because our economy is now coming out of the throes of a slowdown,” he said, adding that a lot more work needed to be done to collect revenues.

The Finance Minister said, “you can’t pay with the expectation that revenues will come.”

Asked whether the economy provides him with enough room to negotiate, he said he did not know about that but a  “sustainable” wage increase would be negotiated and that “we can meet out of projected revenues.”

The IMF forecasts that Guyana’s economy will grow by 4 percent in 2016, while the government projects a  4.4 percent growth.

 

The APNU+AFC government had promised a 20 percent increased in salaries for some government workers during the May 2015 general elections campaign.