Thursday 23 January, 2020

National Security Council meeting Monday following Cabinet retreat

The National Security Council is to convene a meeting on Monday with a view of operationalising strategies that were decided on at the recent Cabinet retreat to tackle the crime monster that has plagued the country for some time.

According to JIS News, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Cabinet “examined current crime and public order challenges and formulated strategies to urgently address them.”

Crime, the contentious public sector wage negotiations, and the Budget, reportedly dominated the discussions at the retreat, as was expected.

The runaway murder rate that has now claimed at least 50 lives since the start of the year and 1,616 last year, reportedly topped the discussions as Government ministers huddled together for three days last week.

The JIS said the prime minister “will also be shortly convening a meeting with the heads of the various bargaining units to discuss the current wage negotiation and the way forward.”

The unions representing public sector workers had given the Government until the end of the Cabinet retreat on Friday to make an improved wage offer to avoid a shutdown of the public service. To date, the Administration has not budged from its offer of six per cent increase over two years over the year-long period of negotiations.

There is an indication that the Holness administration may be willing to be flexible with the Budget to facilitate worker demand for better wages, as news has emerged that the Cabinet discussed the present economic reform programme and examined plans and projections for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which are to be tabled in the estimates of expenditure.

There have been increasing calls from various quarters, including the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) and private sector interests, for the Government to renegotiate its agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that requires it to bring the public sector wage bill to within nine per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

 

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