(PointXpress)Workers in the public sector are in for salary increases that will come into effect during the ‘next budget cycle.’ The announcement came from Prime Minister Gaston Browne who said the government had reached agreements with the representative bodies in the public sector for a 14 percent salary increase, dating back to 2018. The prime minister reported that the increases will come at a significant cost to the government as it will also come with retroactive payments due to public servants.
Additionally, he announced that pensioners will also benefit from increases in their pension payments. However, PM Browne, the country’s Finance Minister, hinted that there is also likely to be what he termed, ‘a marginal increase in taxes’ to allow the government to meet its new obligations.
“I believe that for the next budget cycle, we have to look at increasing taxes marginally, by one or two percent especially considering that we have agreed to give all public sector workers a 14 percent increase. “So, if you are struggling to pay salaries and wages now, and you give a 14 percent increase, then you have to do something to raise the money so that you can grant the increase,” he disclosed.
He noted that the government had timed the increase to take effect from 2024, as it could not have been done in 2022, in light of the escalating food and fuel prices affected by the war in Ukraine. PM Browne also added that ten years after the government first came to office, the opportunity now provides itself to reset the government’s finances.
“We have not raised taxes in the nine years that we have been in office, and by next year, our tenth year, it requires a reset, so that we can meet our obligations. We have creditors who are being paid on time. Where are we going to get the money from? Do we continue to drag our feet and not have a marginal increase in taxes to pay creditors and increase salaries? We have to do it!” he declared.
The three-time prime minister noted that there would be a ‘political fight,’ but that the government has no other option. Since coming to office, he said his government has been able to stabilize the economy and it has attracted more investments per capita than any other country in the Caribbean. However, these investments need time to mature and to begin to generate large sums of money for the government from taxes and other revenues