The St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) on Sunday said the Ralph Gonsalves government “must re-iterate its stance on job security” in light of the government’s undertakings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The union further said the government must “give the assurance that such agreement will not at all interfere with the established terms and conditions for teachers and other public servants”.

The union also expressed concern that there has been a wage freeze since 2011.

The union spoke of an Aug. 1 press release, in which the IMF announced the approval of a US$6.4 million disbursement to SVG under the Rapid Credit Facility and the Rapid Financing Instrument.

The IMF said the money will help the country meet an urgent balance-of-payments need due to severe flooding and landslides in December 2013 that caused massive damage to infrastructure, housing and agriculture.

In the press release, the IMF also said rehabilitation and reconstruction spending is expected to widen the fiscal deficit this year.

The Gonsalves government remains committed to securing a sustainable fiscal position and intends to generate a primary surplus of at least 2 per cent of GDP in the medium term to ensure that the debt-to-GDP ratio is put on a declining path, the release said.

“The authorities also intend to carry out civil service and pension reforms, which will boost competitiveness and employment.” But the Teachers’ Union, in its press release, said it is “all too cognisant of the negative consequences of such arrangements for public sector workers, especially teachers.

“Furthermore, SVGTU raises concerns about what appears to be a unilateral wage freeze imposed on workers since 2011,” the release said.

“Moreover, current media reports suggest that the Government has not been up-to-date with its contributions to the NIS on behalf of its employees,” the union said.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, will take to Parliament on Tuesday a resolution proposing that the government enter into agreement with the National Insurance Board to raise an EC$15 million loan from the National Insurance Fund to liquidate outstanding contributions owed by the Government to the National Insurance Fund.

The Government proposes to raise the loan by the issue of treasury notes totalling EC$15 million.

The Teachers’ Union also said it views, “with deep concern”, the media reports pertaining to the status of Government NIS contributions.

“Teachers are anxious, and wish to be assured that contributions to the NIS are up-to-date and that retirement benefits are intact and available when due. The SVGTU therefore calls on the Government to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders on these and related issues,” the union said.

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace last week accused the government of subtly introducing austerity measures as a result of the agreement with IMF.

Eustace, an economist and former finance minister, said that when interpreted, the language used in the IMF press release points to a very bleak picture.

“… what it is saying is that the government has agreed to contain the wage bill and this can only mean no new hiring, little or no promotion, and no salary increase. In other words, they are imposing a wage freeze on the civil servants,” he said.

But Minister of Foreign Affairs, Camillo Gonsalves, in an opinion piece submitted to I-Witness News, said Eustace is wrong.

“…the Hon. Leader of the Opposition clearly erred when he attempted to link disbursements to SVG under these instruments to some sort of austerity agreement or programme by the IMF,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is son of Prime Minister Gonsalves.

5 replies on “Teachers’ Union concerned about IMF-SVG deal”

  1. Urlan Alexander says:

    I wish the IMF will stop lying on the government. How could the IMF say that the government agreed to control its wage bill, cut spending to statutory entities etc and it is not so?

  2. First of all let me state here that I have no respect for the teachers union from their past actions and things they engaged in. However on this issue they have a right to be concerned, heck every Vincentians should be concerned, the government is going after the people money with no regards. People’s retirement is in serious jeopardy. But before I go further let me present a quote that i think is fitting for what I am about to say.

    First they came for the farmers, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a farmer.

    Then they came for Bigger Biggs, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not Bigger Biggs.

    Then they came for the Wutless Dutty Dogs, and I did not speak out—
    Because I wasn’t a wutless dutty dog

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    What a fine mess we have created in SVG. And the sad thing is, there are many people in SVG who knew better but they sold out our country for personal gains. But hear na fellas, the NIS is the last stop, if you all let the unholy trinity to destroy that too you all need licks. Sometimes I don’t even know how we got here, we came from a country that had a good economy to this nonsense in rapid time. And you hear nonsense about reduction in poverty but at the same time the Welfare list is growing by leaps. How intelligent strong black people sit down and listen to these nonsense is beyond me.

    This nonsense has to stop, these guys want us to suffer and walk hungry on the streets. They are killing us with debt and when they gone they are going to cockup there foot and drink from straw while we are left paying debts, if we give them the chance to get away. Vincentians, it’s time to get rid of these guys

  3. The decision by the Government to pay back money owed to the NIF by “the issue of treasury notes totalling EC$15 million” raises two questions.

    First, any investor, whether an individual or corporate group, interested in buying SVG “treasury notes” would want to know the country’s credit rating to ensure that the note is credit-worthy and that the agreed-upon interest rate and payment schedule are likely to be honoured. No buyer of the notes would like to end up like those who purchased the debts of Greece, Argentina, and others only to see their investments shrink to pennies on the dollar.

    SVG is only rated by one of the six international credit agencies — Moody’s — which by itself speaks to the poor investment climate in our country. The rating it gives is B1, a decent grade if you are schoolboy in SVG.

    But in the credit-rating world it is a very poor grade because it means bonds, notes, and other financial instruments are highly speculative or have what is called “junk bond” status.

    Other countries sharing this rating are financial cripples like Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Senegal, and Sri Lanka.

    This is important because low credit worthiness, means greater investor risk, which translates into high interest rates to attract high-risk tolerant investors. This translates into even more debt owed by the tax-paying public.

    Second, why has SVG never set up a emergency contingency fund — often called a “rainy day fund” — to deal with inevitable environmental catastrophes like storm surges, floods, hurricanes, and the like? Why has no government put a couple million dollars aside in a high-interest account every year in anticipation of such emergencies? Why do our leaders always force us to live from hand to mouth?

    After all, many poor people put away a few dollars every fortnight in case something unexpected happens to them that requires immediate liquidity.

    Why do we always have to be a nation of beggars and lenders!

  4. Steve Huggins says:

    RED ANTS MATHS.

    This aint “ANANCY MATH”. Is Red Ants mathematics.

    YOU owe the NIS $5 MILLION.
    So, you BORROW $13 million from the NIS —- LAUGHABLY TO PAY OFF THAT DEBT. And, you still “have” $10 million of that loan to “PLAY” the fool with, as usual.

    BUT, YOU DAMNED WELL STILL OWE THE NIS $10 MILLION — which STILL HAS TO BE REPAYED.
    Thus, YOU NOW OWE $10 MILLION – – – Instead the previous $5 million.
    EXCEPT you dotishly descend into JACK-ASS MATH [no offense intended to the real innocent beast of burden], it should be PLAINLY OBVIOUS that ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE with the DISTRACTING “Simi-Dimi” was to SIMPY BORROW $10 MILLION FROM THE NIS.

    The HIGHWAY ROBBERS OF THE WILD WEST could not possibly have done it better. Move over JESSIE JAMES and co.

    NO WONDER that the perceptive STOKELY CARMICHAEL, aka KWAME TURE, passionately told us in BARBADOS that these WEST INDIAN GOVERNMENTS especially in their FINANCIAL MATTERS AND TAXATION were decided HIGHWAY GANSTERS AND NAKED ROBBERS.

    Even from the horse’s mouth. We heard PRIME MINISTER ERROL BARROW OF BARBADOS tell us PUBLICLY in the entire Caribbean that THE LEADERS OF THE OECS ARE POLITICAL BANDITS.

    IF you BORROW $15 MILLION from the NIS in order to pay back the NIS., THEN YOU ACTUALLY REPAY the NIS, you finally OWE $15 MILLION,
    YOU ARE BACK TO SQUARE ONE.
    WHAT WASTED EFFORT.

    AND, THIRTEEN (13) WASTED YEARS!

    In the politically crooked event that you do NOT keep your word to pay back the NIS, then YOU NOW OWE THE NIS A GRAND TOTAL OF $30 MILLION.

    But, maybe YOU ALREADY OWE THAT to the NIS, and ellsewhere.

    WHAT ARE THE GOVERNMENT OF SVG’s TOTAL DEBT owing to THE NATIONAL INSURANCE SCHEME?

    When one reviews the relatively brief history of the SVG National Insurance Scheme (NIS), it becomes abundantly obvious that THE NIS HAS BEEN OPERATED AS SOME SORT OF GIGANTIC POLITICAL PONZI SCHEME – – – and, along with the SVG NATIONAL LOTTERY – – – a CYNICAL POLITICAL CASH COW.

    ALREADY, YOUR WORKING SPOUSE’S CONTRIBUTION HAS BEEN CONFISCATED FROM YOU, unless YOU AGREE to allow the POLITICAL-FINANCIAL CHARLATANS to CONFISCATE YOUR OWN CONTRIBUTIONS, INSTEAD.

    Say it ain’t so, NIS.

    This ALL amounts to HIGHWAY ROBBERY in BROAD DAYLIGHT.

    HOW, on earth, could a GRABAMENT BE SO PUBLICLY, OPENLY “thief”?

    When you TAKE or SEIZE from someone THAT WHICH DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU, but belongs to them – – – THAT IS THIEF – – – THAT IS ROBBERY.

    Ah, really did believe the day would really come when OUR GOVERNMENT AND FINANCIAL SYSTEM WOULD SO ARROGANTLY, barefacedly, ROB WE.

    Anyhow, MOON DOES RUN TILL DAY KETCH ‘UM.

    One day, one day, CONQUER DAY.

    RETRIBUTION COMING!

    Somebody done HEADED fuh JAIL . . .

    red ants maths an-tap ah Anancy maths . .

    Ah put me hands upon me bare head and BAWL “MURDER ! ”

    ADVANTAGE, unfair advantage, AND ELITIST POLITICAL EXPLOITATION never done!

    Murder, ADVANTAGE !!! . .

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