Saturday 11 July, 2020

Joseph: Critics of salary increase for ministers should change mindset

Transport Minister Hon. Guy Joseph

Transport Minister Hon. Guy Joseph

Over the past few weeks, the Government of St Lucia has been calling for a partial payment in cash and partial payment in bonds for all public servants, which they deemed necessary due to the current state of the economy due to COVID-19.

Considering that, the St Lucia Trade Union Federation (TUF) publicly offered to waive a 1% salary increase in order to deter the partial payments for public servants.

As this is going on Government Ministers are due a 55% wage increase.

The question is, will Government Ministers accept a wage increase even with the current state of the economy?

Speaking at a recent interview, Transport Minister Guy Joseph said that government cannot suspend salary increases because they have already agreed to take a 75% deferred payment.

“This government did not introduce that pay increase. When we came into government in 2007, we found a commission that had been charged with the responsibility of giving increases. Back, I think in 2008 or 2010 thereabout, the public servants took their increases, we were in government then, we did not take our increases.”

He further explained that the UWP government was only paid 1/3 of backdated salary funds due to them and the balance to be paid in September of this year and September 2021, stressing that they did not receive a tax break even though monies had been owed to them for the last 10 years.

“I know that the Ministers in Parliament were the first ones to agree that we would take a 75% deferred payment. So, you know what my salary is going to be? About $3,000 for the month.”

Mr Joseph condemned criticism of their decision stating that people need to change their mindsets and made reference to businesses receiving 100% duty-free on vehicle imports while parliamentarians must pay the difference if the value of their vehicles exceeds $100,000.

Parliamentary Representative for Castries South Ernest Hilaire posted a response to the matter on Facebook today, May 25, 2020: “I was not given any salary increase during the COVID crisis! If there was an increase, which I did not notice, can the Accountant General please take it back. If the Accountant General plans to give me one, I don't want it. If the Accountant General cuts the public servants salary, please cut mine too! Thank you.”

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