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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Finance Minister Audley Shaw said the Government would have to raise taxes to pay teachers the wage increase they are seeking.
In a press statement yesterday, Shaw admitted the teachers deserved more than was being offered, but said “the Government is unable to increase taxes at this time as it would have a deleterious impact on the fragile state of the economy”.
Following is the full text of Mr Shaw’s statement:
The Government of Jamaica recognises and appreciates the sacrifices of all public sector workers. We thank them and applaud their continued contribution and dedication to the development of our country.
The Government is also cognisant of the interest of the teachers and agrees that public servants, including teachers, deserve more.
The Government is however unable, at this time, to improve its current wage offer to public sector workers as this would have serious repercussions for and imperil the economy.
Given the calculations, the only possible approach to satisfying the demands of the unions, in terms of an improved offer, would be an increase in taxes on all Jamaicans to pay for this improvement.
The Government is unable to increase taxes at this time as it would have a deleterious impact on the fragile state of the economy.
The Administration respects and appreciates our workers, but the current wage offer is the best we can do at this time in the national interest.
As the economy improves the Government should be able to provide better compensation in the future.
Again it must be noted that it is not unusual and not unprecedented that initial payments are made in a contract period before the new negotiated contracts are signed. This is a sign of goodwill between the Government and workers.
The Government craves the understanding and patience of our public sector workers and pledges to continue negotiations to settle on a wage deal for the period under consideration.