One of the country’s leading religious figures, Rev. Osbert James has raised the prospects of a salary increase for members of the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government.
James, a member of the Presbyterian church, has sought to put the issue on the agenda for a meeting this past week of a local group that was put together to help monitor Grenada’s 3-year so-called home-grown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) with help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The religious figure dropped hints that government ministers need a salary increase in light of the recent increase given to public officers in salary negotiations with the State.
THE NEW TODAY was able to obtain correspondence sent by James to other members of the self-style Grenada Jubilee Committee (GJC) that involves other churchmen.
Following is the text of James’ letter:
I speak to you in my capacity as Chair of the Grenada Jubilee Committee which was formed by the Conference of Churches after our first debt conference.
This committee meets monthly and looks at the state of the finances of government, asks questions about public spending, requests fiscal updates and often makes recommendations which the Minister of Economic Affairs takes to the Cabinet for consideration.
The ultimate desire of Jubilee Grenada is to have a sustained and sustainable economy in which there are adequate safety nets for the vulnerable and the tax burden is borne by all who benefit from the services of the state, but that it not be onerous or applied inequitably.
We also desire that there will be a Jubilee Committee in each Caribbean Island and that there will be a pan-Caribbean Jubilee movement which addresses the indebtedness of our countries and seeks favourable resolution of the debt issue as well as encourage national governments to enact legislation and implement fiscal policies that will see all our countries with a debt to GDP ratio of under 60%.
You will notice in the draft agenda an item on ministers’ salaries and other benefits.
I have asked that this be put on the agenda because I believe that before there is a new administration in place, this is a concern that should be settled or at least steps are in train to deal with it in a non-partisan manner.
I want to deal with it simply by asking a few questions and making a recommendation:
(1). Now that there has recently been negotiated wage settlements between public sector unions and the state, does it follow that government ministers automatically benefit from such agreements?
(2. If this is so, is it reasonable and advisable to have a government minister represent the state in salary negotiations for public workers when he/she would be a beneficiary of any settlement? (“Sir, I fear you protest too loudly!”)
(3). If this is not so, who then determines salary increases and vacation time for ministers of government?
(4). Should there be salary increase within a term of office?
I therefore propose/recommend that a mechanism/formula be put in place, if none presently exists, that determines firstly, an acceptable wage package for government ministers and secondly, when and by what degree, increments should be made.
I am hoping that this will prepare you for a meaningful discussion on the issue.
Grenada Jubilee Committee