There was no announcement on salary increases for public servants in the 2016 National Budget, despite calls from the opposition People’s Progressive Party for substantial increases to be offered.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan told the National Assembly that those increases will have to await the conclusion of discussions with the relevant unions.
“The Government understands the disappointment this will create among public servants, but wishes to assure them of our commitment to their welfare and advancement. We ask that they give the collective bargaining process an opportunity to work,” Jordan appealed.
The Minister did announced measures to improve workers’ income. Jordan said an amendment to the Income Tax Act will be undertaken to increase the income tax threshold to $660,000, from $600,000 yearly, which will translate monthly from $50,000 to $55,000.
With this measure, Jordan said, over 68,000 workers will be removed from the income tax roll, in addition to the fact that workers have an additional disposable income annually.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters on Wednesday that he believes salary increases for public servants is a necessary measure to be included in the 2016 budget, particularly against what was offered last year. “I’m hoping that public servants will see a substantial increase,” Jagdeo said, while reminding the coalition government of its 2015 campaign promises in this regard.
Under Jagdeo’s presidency and that of his successor Donald Ramotar, public servants did not receive more than a 5% increase in their salaries for several years.
Public Servants received salary increases at different rates in the 2015 budget, ranging from 6.0% to 26.4%. that was just under five months ago. Additionally, every part time hourly paid cleaner received $313 per hour, reflecting a 54% increase.
All Public Servants were also given a $50,000 grant at the end of December, 2015.