The government has responded to comments made by recently re-elected President of the Civil Service Association (CSA) Mary Isaac who has criticised the government’s handling of the planned salary cuts and reduction in the budget expenditure ahead of today’s meeting with government and public sector unions. Below is the entire statement:
The Government of Saint Lucia congratulates Ms. Mary Issac and her team for emerging winners in the recently held CSA Elections. By all accounts her margin of victory over her opponents was resounding.
Government wishes to assure public officers that it will continue to work closely with their duly elected representatives to resolve issues of concern to them and indeed the people of our country.
The government has taken note of recent comments by Ms. Mary Issac in an interview on HTS Television, particularly in respect of the planned meeting with public sector unions today.
Ms. Issac has variously described today’s meeting as a “farce”, “an insult”. She accuses the government of being “disrespectful”, allegedly because of publication of reductions of expenditure in the 2014/2015 Estimates of Expenditure. These remarks are regrettable and unjustified.
It would be unfortunate if Ms. Issac did not attend the planned meeting between the Cabinet of Ministers and the leadership of public sector unions and associations.
For some time now, the Government of Saint Lucia has embarked on consultations to sensitise its social partners to the challenges faced by the government. In February of this year, the government held a retreat with the private sector and trade unions to look at the economic prospects of the country. After that encounter, public sector unions were invited, on Saint Lucia’s initiative, to a meeting with the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in St Kitts to discuss the economic challenges facing the OECS States. Ms. Mary Issac was at that meeting. Indeed, she made a presentation to the meeting.
It would be wrong, legally and otherwise, to convey the impression that the laying of the Estimates of Expenditure in the House Assembly amounted to a legislating of the Estimates. That only occurs on the enactment of the Appropriation Bill which normally happens after the presentation of the Budget. Those who peddle that view seem to be unaware of the constitutional provisions governing the approval of the estimates of revenue and expenditure or conversely, are simply playing politics with our country’s future.
The Government of Saint Lucia reiterates its determination to work closely with public sector unions to find consensus and common ground in resolving the fiscal issues facing the country. What is clear is that the government cannot continue to borrow money to pay salaries and wages or introduce new taxes to meet the cost of the public service in these trying economic times.