The National Democratic Congress(NDC) condemns as despicable and abhorrent, the decision by the NNP Cabinet of Ministers to give themselves an increase in salaries at this time.
In this period, when close to 40 percent of all Grenadians are living in poverty; when over 30 percent of the Grenadian labour force are unable to find work to support their families and the entire population is bracing itself to face the unprecedented government-imposed austerity program, Dr. Mitchell and his Ministers are secretly increasing their salaries and benefits on top of all the benefits they already enjoy.
While publicly calling on the People of Grenada to make sacrifices to support a Structural Adjustment Program, reports coming out of the Ministry of Finance indicate that at the end of October, the Ministers were given a lump sum cheque to cover a 6 percent increase in their salary retroactive from May 1st, 2013 to October 31st 2013.
Furthermore, effective November 1st the Minsters will enjoy a 6 percent in their salary going forward. This move by the Mitchell administration cannot be defended, even by NNP supporters. It is simply too callous and insensitive.
The increase in salary of the Ministers is reportedly taken to match the following increases in public officers’ salaries that were negotiated last year for the period January 1st 2009 to December 31st 2012 by the Government Negotiating Team (GNT):
2009 – 4% (cumulative)
2010 – $500.00 one off
2011 – $ 500.00 one off
2012 – 2% (cumulative)
Based on the above, public workers are entitled to a back pay for the monies that they were entitled to for the years 2009-2012, inclusive, as well as an increase of 6 percent in their salary effective January 1st 2013.
So far, the public officers have only received their back pay for 2009. They have not yet received their back pay for 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The increase in their salaries only took effect in September 2013. Public officers are therefore also entitled to some back pay for 2013, representing the 6 percent salary increase for the months of January to August.
Today, we are being told that the Government Ministers have taken the stand that since the public officers got their 6 percent salary increase from September 2013, then the Ministers are also entitled to take the same increase of 6 percent in their salaries.
It must be noted that Ministers of Government are not members of the unions and the unions do not negotiate for the Ministers of Government. There is therefore no basis for the Ministers to claim that they HAVE to take the increase because public workers are taking it. As leaders, they can show us by their example what is meant by “sacrifice”.
Moreover, it appears that rather than waiting for their back pay for January to August, 2013, as they are asking the public workers to do, the Minsters are going ahead and taking their back pay for the months of May to October 2013.
Should this really be the case the Ministers would be jumping ahead of the public officers, taking their back pay while asking the workers to hold strain.
This action by Dr. Mitchell and his Ministers demonstrates that despite all the talk about the need for sacrifice, they do not understand the meaning of sacrifice and they themselves are not prepared to make any.
If Dr. Mitchell truly believes that we have a national problem that requires a national effort to solve it, then our leaders must lead by example.
Last year, when the NDC Government passed the 2012 Budget, the Ministers took a 5 percent cut in their salaries. When the NNP Government came into office in February 2013, they reinstated the 5 percent on their salaries. Now they are heaping a further 6 percent on top of the 5 percent they reinstated.
And while treating themselves to these additional salaries, Dr. Mitchell is telling the nation “we must control the expansion of the wage bill”.
In his address to the nation, Dr. Mitchell told the nation this:
“Government cannot proceed with significant wage increases and fringe benefits at the same time it is seeking significant debt relief from creditors, and significant financial resources from countries which are themselves facing their own economic challenges.
Let me reiterate, the success or failure of the home-grown programme is directly linked to the issue of the Government wage bill”.
Worse yet, reports coming out of the fire station suggest that even though Ministers of Government collect a Travelling Allowance and a Gas Allowance every month from the Treasury, some Ministers are engaged in the obscene practise of going to the fire station and filling up their vehicles with gasoline from the gas purchased for use by the fire trucks and police vehicles.
These developments constitute a total lack of compassion, respect and regard by the Mitchell Administration for the plight of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. These developments are consistent with the track record of the New National Party(NNP).
Grenadians have been fooled far too often and for far too long by the New National Party leadership. We must not allow this to continue!!!!