Nothing is “off the table” when it comes down to pay cuts for civil servants as a result of the economic impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.
This from Premier David Burt, when asked again, whether or not Cabinet will follow the lead taken by other leaders to cut their pay.
Speaking at the latest COVID-19 briefing on Friday, the Premier said pay cuts within the civil service remains an option.
“As this question is asked continuously,” he said: “We are sitting down with our union partners on Monday.
“The fact is that the Minister of Finance, when he was here two weeks ago said nothing is off the table and he is recasting the Budget.
“We are going to work through that particular process and we are going to come to a collective place, which is in the best interest of the country.”
Saint Lucia’s Cabinet agreed to a 75 percent pay cut to help tackle the COVID-19 economic crisis in April.
Last month, the island’s Commerce Minister, Bradley Felix, disclosed that discussions regarding pay cuts for parliamentarians were in “advanced stages, which would cause the Cabinet of Ministers to take home 25 percent of their salaries”.
“The parliamentarians were the first on the block as it relates to that,” he said.
“It is across the board.”
According to documents from St Lucia’s Ministry of Finance, that ended up in the public domain, “government’s monthly revenue has dropped from $110 million monthly to about $30 million over the last two months that COVID-19 has been affecting the island”.
One report said: “This has therefore created a cash flow crisis for the Government, which has to pay civil servants salaries of $43 million a month whilst also servicing debt payments of approximately $40 million a month.
“Rumours about civil servants taking a 50 percent pay cut have been circulating, however, the Government of Saint Lucia and the various unions are still in discussion on the matter,” the report added.
According to a letter sent to the trade unions from the Government, the following is proposed:
• Workers in Grades 1-7 receive 100% of their salaries
• Workers in Grades 8-18 receive 50% of their salary in cash and 50% in the form of a Government investment bond (For 3 months)
• Workers in Grades 19-21 receive 25% of their salary in cash and 75% in the form of a Government bond (For 3 months)
• Government pensioners receive 100% of their monthly pension
“The unions were also given the opportunity to come up with various options which has not actually materialized, they have been given some additional time for us to discuss all of these options. It is one of those moments where it is extremely trying times and we have to try to think out of the box how we can deal with the shortfall in revenue,” Felix said.
Meanwhile, several world leaders are taking “unique steps to handle the unprecedented situation”.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she and other top government officials would take a 20 percent pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The salaries of members of government, members of parliament, government advisors and directors of government-owned companies in Aruba would be taking a 10% pay cut amid the crisis, until December 31, 2020,” the report added.
“Although negotiations are still underway with trade unions, Loop News has been reliably informed by senior Government officials that the Cabinet of Ministers who do not form part of a trade union, have agreed amongst themselves to take a 75 percent salary reduction as part of efforts to help with Governments cash flow issues due to COVID-19.”