BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday October 15, 2018 – Hundreds of government workers in Barbados – but not more than 1,500, mostly in temporary positions, will be laid off over the coming weeks as the Government continues to execute its International Monetary Fund(IMF)-supported economic recovery and transformation plan.
In a televised address to the nation yesterday evening, Prime Minister Mia Mottley dismissed rumours that thousands of civil servants would go on the breadline, and outlined a series of strategies to help those who would be, cope.
“While we do not have the exact number, because we are following process rather than arithmetical deductions, we know that it is unlikely to be more than 1,500 people over the course of the next few weeks. But, regrettably, one is too many,” she said, adding that the last in, first out principle would be adhered to.
“There will be severance type packages available to persons, particularly the temporary persons — and more than 80 per cent are temporary….Those severance type packages will also be buttressed by payment in lieu of notice.”
Each worker sent home will get their severance on the day they leave, the Prime Minister added.
Even after severing ties with the employees, Mottley promised they would not be abandoned. She said Government would be establishing a household mitigation unit to assist the retrenched workers.
“I will have five persons who will interact with all those who are being laid off to make sure there is a minimal standard of living below which no one in this country will fall,” she said.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said affected workers would be given priority when the Government rolls out a project to digitize its vast records in January; and the Government will amend the laws to establish an affirmative action programme to allow for up to 20 per cent of the value of government goods and services to go to affected workers.
Mottley said a committee made up of representatives from the Social Partnership along with members of the public service would determine who benefits from that programme.
Meantime, the Prime Minister revealed in her address that almost all of the island’s creditors have agreed to back the Government’s debt restructuring exercise which proposes a haircut to interest rates and longer terms to maturity.
“I am happy to report that in respect to that debt exchange which involved 115 per cent of our national income or the equivalent of BDS$1.9 billion (US$950 million) in domestic debt and arrears, that we have had the extraordinary performance of 99 per cent of those who tendered voting yes for the domestic debt exchange. And I am told that 99 per cent of those who tendered represents more than 90 per cent of those eligible to vote,” she said.
At the beginning of this month, the IMF Executive Board approved an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) which will give Barbados access to about US$290 million, over the next four years. The agreement supports the home-grown Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.