Public Officers will receive the final tranche of their back pay from government at the end of this month.
That’s the assurance given to them by Minister with responsibility for Economic, Trade, Planning and Cooperatives, Oliver Joseph.
He said that the final payments owed to public officers will bring the total amount of money paid in back pay to $40 million within the16 months in office of the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration.
“Before the 31st of July the final tranche would be paid, that would bring the total up to EC$40 million”, Minister Joseph told reporters at a post-Cabinet briefing session.
“So government come into office (and) within one year and a half, have to find EC$40 million to pay salaries every month, on time … that is a big, big achievement and we are paying it from our own local resources”, he said.
Late last year, the cash-strapped Keith Mitchell administration in St. George’s was forced to borrow millions from the state-run National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to pay salaries.
Minister Joseph disclosed that all the backpay claims have been prepared and payment would be made before July 31.
The NNP government had failed to meet its backpay commitment to the estimated 6, 000 public officers as promised in June.
A press release issued by the Ministry of Finance last month expressed regret to public officers that the fourth and final installment of some $14 million “scheduled for May 2014 may need to be rescheduled.
The release said that a new payment date “will be confirmed in due course and in a timely manner.”
The latter was an attempt by the ministry to address the annoyance expresed by public sector union officials over the scant courtesy of the government in not informing them in a timely manner of the non-payment of the promised backpay.
One of the three public sector unions – the Public Workers Union (PWU) sent out a note to its membership to brief them on the turn of events with respect to the back-pay issue.
“…The PWU wishes to inform members that Government has indicated that the moneys to meet this obligation is coming from external sources and was disappointed that these monies were not received at the estimated time. Government has also apologised that it was unable to meet this obligation and to date, has stated that it is still trying to source funding.
“The Union was further informed that Government would do all in its power to meet this obligation by June 2014 for the period 2011 payments, which was due on February 28th, 2014. In light of this also, the May, 2014 obligation for retroactive payments for 2012 would be postponed to a later date to be paid by October, 2014,” the PWU said.
“The Government has indicated its commitment to meet its obligations to workers and promised to constantly communicate with the Executive of the Union on this issue. The Union would provide its members with further updates immediately as the information is available”.