And that something is 10% of their wages and their increments, for three years in succession. As you heard, and as the unions will explain later on - they do not accept that proposal.

But, the budget will be presented two weeks from tomorrow - and with a half a billion dollar deficit, government has to show major cutbacks.

We asked the PM, what will be in that budget?:

Hon. John Briceno - Prime Minister

"We have not finished the budget presentation simply because we want to give enough time to the unions for us to come up with a solution. Now if they can come up with a solution on how we can save 80 million dollars, we'll be happy to listen, I would never tell you that I have all the answers and what we have done is present to them the state of the economy, the financial situation of the government, how badly the taxes are performing, the shortfall that we have in government, in revenues, making the point that presently that of every dollar that we collect, we're spending about 83 cents to pay salaries alone. So we've presented everything to them and in our discussions with the IMF, they are looking like a hawk over us because they know in their mind, what they've been saying is I told you so, this is going to happen if we do not take any corrective actions. Now there are a number of things we can do. We can do on and standby arrangement with the IMF but if we're to do that, then there's going to be massive retrenchment, their is going to be a raise in taxes and we believe that the prescription is going to be way more painful than if we together the government and the unions can come up with a home grown plan. We have presented the home grown plan with them and we've pointed out to them that we need cut wages by about 10% and then we have to cut goods and services by another 15%, that we have to renegotiate and get a haircut with the superbond and that even without bilateral loans, we have to see how we can renegotiate in how we're going to be paying them because we simply don't have the money and if the unions can come up with a different way on how we can save that 80 million dollars without us touching their salaries, I will be the first one to agree."

Jules Vasquez

"So, sir on March 25th when you present the new budget, do you expect that there will be a 10% cut in their for teachers and public officers?"

Hon. John Briceno

"Well I do expect that we will have to find saving of 80 million dollars. Whether it is by salary cuts or any other way, I am open. Tell me how we can reach to that 80 million dollars that we have to do every year for the next 3 years and I'll be very happy."

Jules Vasquez

"But they have to tell you in the next few days."

Hon. John Briceno

"Well we don't have time because time is upon us and we hope that by next week we can come up with some kind of resolution."

Jules Vasquez

"Is the message that if we don't take this wage cut now today, it's going to be the IMF next month and you won't like their solutions. In that regard are you forcing the unions to negotiate so to speak with an IMF gun to their heads?"

Hon. John Briceno

"I don't think that I'm using the IMF gun, but the reality is, they met with the IMF and the IMF told them what is in front of them, so they are fully aware, the leadership of the unions. They are fully aware of what the IMF is talking about, so if we do not find how we can reduce that fiscal gap of 500 million dollars, then what are our options? If we continue to print money as to what has been happening since Dean Barrow in April of last year, we can have hyperinflation, if hyperinflation get out of hand then you will need to a wheel barrow to take and buy your groceries which is not going to be helpful with anymore or can have the dreaded D word which I don't want to use, devaluation and god forbid we should have a devaluation, then you will have a bigger wage cut because then your purchasing power will be reduced by whatever is the amount of the devaluation."

Jules Vasquez

"Do you think the unions are wilfully ignoring the hard facts of this situation?"

Hon. John Briceno

"I don't think it's a matter of wilfully ignoring, I really don't think so but what is happening is that a lot of the membership probably is they are not fully aware of what is Infront of them. I don't think that nobody wants a wage cut. So it is expected the reaction of the teachers and the teachers are much more organized, so I understand and I feel their frustration and their pain on all of that and I'm going to great lengths to try to point out that I understand what they're doing. The leadership, you have 4 thousand teachers and I don't know if they have had enough time to speak to all 4 thousand but I hope that at the end of the day that common sense can prevail jointly, both government and the unions to find a common ground as to how we can close that 500 million dollar fiscal gap that Dean Barrow and the UDP left us with."

Jules Vasquez

"But if they don't come up with that 80 million saving like a rabbit out of hat, if they can't come up with that, you're going to go ahead sir, you are going to cut their pay."

Hon. John Briceno

"Before we get to that point, let's see what the unions are going to come with. They are not embarking with consultations with the membership and with themselves. Let's not jump ahead, let's see what they will present to us."

Jules Vasquez

"You've seen the public statements sir; they are rejecting it."

Hon. John Briceno

"You know all of us we have to talk to say what we have to say but at the end of the day when we sit down and try to seal the negotiations, let's see with what ideas or ways of how we can close that fiscal gap."

Jules Vasquez

"The PSU statement and you read it; is it is not in agreement. If they are not in agreement and you realize it as a must, as an inevitability, we know what is going to happen, that's when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You have to go through and do what you do as Prime Minister, you will have to cut their pay."

Channel 7