The Briceño administration continues to consult with stakeholders, including the business community, ahead of presenting a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. While government receives input from various corners for what will be a lean financial plan for 2021, it is also looking to realize savings of up to one hundred and eighty million dollars over the next three years by docking salaries for public officers and teachers. The proposal to reduce the wage bill comes amid the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, a meeting was held with the Public Service Union during which several matters were discussed. Today Financial Secretary Joseph Waight outlined a five-point proposal. Along with the suggested reduction of staff salaries is a continued freeze on increments and benefits over a three-year period, with G.O.B. saving twenty million dollars per annum. That’s a total of two hundred and forty million dollars in public funds being saved between 2021 and 2024, should the joint unions agree to the proposal. It is by no means a done deal. News Five spoke with First Vice President Dean Flowers of the Public Service Union.

Dean Flowers, First Vice President, P.S.U.

“The government, as they did in the first meeting, was clear on the current economic situation that the country is in and they were able to share with us and explain to us more in-depth their plans to bridge the deficit, this is the budget deficit, and thereafter of course how best we could address the 134% debt-to-GDP that the country is currently under. Following that meeting, we requested of the government for them to provide to us, of course in writing, what exactly it is they want, you know, so that we can get down to the meet or to the essence of the decision. We will convene a council of management meeting tomorrow and we will then coordinate membership meetings and once we have heard back from membership, we will be able to provide the government with a detailed and comprehensive response whether that be in the form of a counter-proposal or an alternate proposal or a complete rejection of what they are putting forward or a complete agreement of what they are putting forward, I don’t know. That mandate will come from membership. The Public service Union or none of the joint unions have put forward any proposal that has to do with salary cuts. What we put forward vehemently and very strongly is the need for us to address revenue enhancement and for us to put in place structures and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that government performs more responsibly where compliance and the share of the tax burden is concerned. Those are the positions that we have put forward forcefully. We are only in receipt of this proposal by the government.”

Channel 5