Monday 9 December, 2019

Ahead of school shutdown, Shaw restates that Gov’t ‘can do no more'

Finance Minister, Audley Shaw

Finance Minister, Audley Shaw

The Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, said Sunday afternoon that any decision to make an improved salary offer to teachers would result in “an increase in taxes on all Jamaicans to pay for this improvement”.

Shaw, in response to word that the public school teachers will be going on a three-day sickout as on Monday, said: “The Government is unable to increase taxes at this time, as it would have a deleterious impact on the fragile state of the economy. The Administration respects and appreciates our workers, but the current wage offer is the best we can do at this time in the national interest.”

He added that, “as the economy improves, the Government should be able to provide better compensation in the future.”

 When Shaw opened the 2018-2019 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives last Thursday, it was the first time in 14 years that Jamaicans were not called upon to pay new taxes in such a presentation.

And again, responding to the teachers, who claim union-busting by the decision of the Government to go ahead and pay teachers the increase along with other public servants this month end, Shaw reiterated that, “it is not unusual and not unprecedented that initial payments are made in a contract period before the new negotiated contracts are signed. This is a sign of goodwill between the Government and workers.

 Meanwhile, he said the Government recognises and appreciates the sacrifices of all public sector workers.

“We thank them and applaud their continued contribution and dedication to the development of our country. The Government is also cognisant of the interest of the teachers, and agrees that public servants, including teachers, deserve more.”

 But he said the Government is presently unable to improve its current wage offer to public sector workers, “as this would have serious repercussions for, and imperil the economy".

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