Reduced numbers in the public service

There has been a decrease by 287 of the number of persons working in the public service as a result of government’s attrition policy.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell made the disclosure in Parliament during the presentation of the 2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.

He told the Lower house that at the end of June 2015, the size of the public service was 5,879 compared to 6,166 as of December 31, 2014.

The Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been pushing the cash-strapped Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government to cut on expenditure as part of a 3-year Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

The administration has embarked upon an attrition policy, which provides for no more than three persons to replace every ten persons who retire or exit the public service in order to lessen its wage bill.

In recent weeks, government announced that it was forced to make an exception in the attrition policy to regularise 205 temporary teachers, and for the Ministry of Health to fill 24 vacancies, 16 of which were nurses.

Before the SAP was introduced, government was spending seventy cents of every dollar collected on wages and salaries, and on pensions.

However, Dr. Mitchell announced in his budget speech that in 2015 the proportion of every dollar of revenue spent on wages and salaries, and on pensions has now fallen from seventy cents to forty-eight cents.

Dr. Mitchell also gave an account of the current unemployment figures.

He said that according to the preliminary results of the 2015 Labour Force Survey, the rate of unemployment is now 30.4 percent, slightly up from the 28.9 percent recorded in 2014.

He attributed this slight increase to a higher labour participation rate as more persons, particularly women, are now seeking employment.

The Prime Minister said the number of persons employed has increased from 37,365 in 2013 to 41,046 in 2014.

On the public debt, the Minister of Finance told fellow Parliamentarians that it is projected to be $2.7b as of December 31, 2015.

Dr. Mitchell also said that his government has met debt payment of $299.4m including $3.7m to Taiwan during this year.

Grenada had contracted four loans from Ex-Im Bank of Taiwan between 1990 and 2000, and the agreement reached in the debt structuring is for the country to have a grace period of three and a half years, and then make payments every six months over a 15-year period.

The payment due to Taiwan is expected to conclude in 2029 at an interest rate of seven percent.

The debt owed was US$36.6M or EC$98.8M and Ex-Im Taiwan has agreed to grant Grenada a fifty percent haircut.

Four hundred and fifty-six million dollars have been allocated in the budget of which $1,125,607,770.00 is for debt servicing.

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