Thu | Nov 15, 2018

IMF target challenging Govt

Published:Wednesday | November 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Horace Dalley, the minister with responsibility for the public service, says the Government may be hard-pressed to meet the nine per cent of GDP wage target that has been agreed to with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Jamaica must reform its public sector to, among other things, reduce the public-sector wage bill to at least nine per cent of GDP by March 2016. Some $161.7 billion of the $540-billion Budget is being used to pay wages this year, representing a wage bill of 10 per cent of GDP.

Dalley, who, along with finance minister Dr Peter Phillips, will be meeting with the public-sector reform team today to consider a report that has been prepared by Vivene Pottinger-Scott for the Cabinet for the transformation of the public sector, said while the Government is on target to meet the nine per cent benchmark, getting there will be "challenging".

"We have had some settlements with the fire (department), correctional services, and we have had a whole heap of back things (unsettled salary issues) from 2006, 2008 ... ," Dalley told The Gleaner.

"There are many things that have been outstanding, and that is why we have been a little bit away from the nine per cent by 2016, but I think we will make it. The projection is that we might be about 9.05 per cent of GDP but we have to meet the nine per cent," he told The Gleaner.

Dalley said that he has just, on behalf of the Government, settled a wage agreement with the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association for the 2008-2010 period.

"Our intention in the Ministry of Finance is to clean up the system so you know what you are going to be paying for and you can sit with the parties and say, 'This is what we have but we can't pay you until say 2018-2019'," Dalley said.

Meanwhile, Pottinger-Scott, who was earlier this year named director general of public-sector transformation and modernisation in the Office of the Cabinet, has prepared a comprehensive report for the Cabinet, which Dalley said will be the focus of today's meeting.

Dalley has stressed that public-sector reform is not about job cuts but rather aimed at making the service more responsive to business facilitation and development.