Black Immigrant Daily News
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has repeated his warning to public sector workers who are yet to accept the Government’s wage offer that there will be no room in the upcoming budget to make the payments.
In fact, Clarke said on Tuesday that there will be no room in several budgets for such payments.
He was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday after tabling a historic trillion-dollar budget for the upcoming 2023/24 fiscal year that starts on April 1.
Clarke noted that the largest single item of expenditure is the amount of $338 billion for wages and salaries and includes provisions for the second year of implementation of the public sector compensation restructuring.
“This level of expenditure is approximately $100.12 billion higher than the wages and salaries expenditure for fiscal year 2021/22, after adjusting for allowances previously captured in programmes,” the minister stated.
“There is no room in the upcoming fiscal year for fiscal year 2022/23-related salary payments to be made,” said Clarke. “The amount of $338 billion only contains 2023/24 salaries. We are, therefore, working feverishly, making ourselves available to complete negotiations on the public sector restructuring in the remaining weeks of this year to facilitate payment of fiscal year 2022/23 salaries in fiscal year 2022/23.”
The finance minister emphasised that “any of these amounts not paid this fiscal year will have to be paid over a number of years beginning in the fiscal year that follows the upcoming one”.
Regarding the ongoing negotiations with the hold-out groups, Clarke said: “Even if the first time is a no; that does not mean that we cannot get to a yes. There are only a few weeks left. We are available morning, noon and night, weekday and weekends. Let’s talk. Let’s get it done”.
Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and teachers represented by the Jamaica Teachers’ Association are among the largest groups of public sector employees yet to agree to the government’s wage offer. Smaller groups include employees of Jamaica Customs and Tax Administration Jamaica. Firefighters have been restive in recent weeks.
Clarke cited that the political class is impacted by the delay.
“I want to make it clear that this has an impact on those in the political directorate, too, for example, councillors, parliamentarians and ministers. We will not make compensation adjustments for those in the political directorate until we have concluded with the major groups. This may be inconvenient but it’s just a matter of principle,” the minister said.