While public service wages are growing at a rapid pace in St. Lucia, productivity has been declining.
This is the view of Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Kenny Anthony during his national address on the state of the economy and wage negotiations for public servants.
“To put it more plainly, some persons are being paid more for producing less. GDP output has grown by an average of less than one percent over the last three years, and it is projected to remain subdued in the short term. If we base wage increases only on inflation and not productivity or our ability to pay, we are actually making our country poorer and making the goods and services we produce less attractive to the outside world,” Dr. Anthony explained, adding that “I know that this is an “inconvenient truth” but we must summon courage to face our reality.”
The prime minister also admitted that systematic issues are plaguing the efficiency of the public service.
“I think all sides accept this. Many persons who are skilled and competent cannot be upgraded to higher positions due to an absence of suitable positions. In some instances, there is need for reorganization and reclassification. Equally, there are many areas where ministries require new staff. This will mean additional expenditure,” he noted.
“I know that there are many persons who are working diligently and beyond the call of duty while others are chronically late or spend large chunks of their work day in unproductive activities. Ideally, we would all like a system in which public officers are properly remunerated for top class performance and output. In fact, this is one of the reasons why we urgently need Public Sector Modernisation to reward those who are truly productive.
“However, in the meantime, our current system of negotiations takes on salary increases en masse. So while there is exceptional performance by many public officers, we know this has not resulted in overall improvements of output for our economy.”