Trinidad government to shell out TT$2.5b in back pay
The Trinidad & Tobago government said Monday it would pay an estimated TT$2.5 billion in arrears to public workers by the end of March, while noting that the wage bill inherited from the former administration is being financed from new debt.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, speaking in Parliament, said that the former Persad-Bissessar administration had agreed to huge wage increases at a time when there was “no source of recurrent revenue” to meet the payment.
“It had to be paid from borrowings,” Rowley told legislators. “At the time when 14 per cent was given to public servants it was done with their eyes wide open that there was no revenue to pay that money. So to keep that contract, we are now having to borrow,” he said.
Public servants as well as police and the members of the other security forces, have been demanding that the Rowley administration to pay the outstanding funds.
“If nothing is done and no cheques are being cut to facilitate the payment by this month-end, then we will do what we have to do,” said President of the Public Service Association Watson Duke commented to reporters last week.
“We want all of the back pay arrears and there will be zero tolerance on that. We want to hear no excuse whatsoever. None,” Duke said.
Rowley told Parliament that the funds to Finance Minister Colm Imbert went on a “borrowing drive” to finance the arrears.
“Half of those monies were paid earlier on and I can tell today, Madam Speaker, that the Minister of Finance has been able to arrange the source of funds to ensure that the monies are available by March 31 to pay public servants their outstanding back pay,” PM Rowley said.