Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne on Thursday announced that public servants will receive a five percent pay increase and will benefit from a number of programmes while government negotiates with bargaining agents on a suitable pay raise.
“Never was public servants’ commitment to service more tested than over the past decade. Since my Government assumed office three and a half years ago, fiscal constraints prevented any increase in pay for public servants. As Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, I have made a commitment to increasing the pay of Public Servants. My Government and I fully intend to make good on that commitment,” PM Browne said.
The country’s leader said that given the time that has elapsed since the last negotiated agreement and the number of proposals that need to be considered by the Government’s negotiating team, it will take some time to arrive at a final agreement with each bargaining agent.
“Given that the negotiation process between the unions and the Government’s team will take some time, the Government has decided to pay an interim increase of five (5) percent of basic salary for public servants. I promised in 2017, that public servants would receive an increase in pay and while the process for arriving at a negotiated rate may still be unfolding, I am determined to deliver on that promise,” the Prime Minister said.
He noted that the interim increase which will take effect from January 1, 2018, is not intended to prejudice the negotiations, nor is it an indication of the Government’s final offer as it relates to a wage increase.
In addition, the country leader said that in a further effort to alleviate conditions for Public Servants while the negotiations take place, and to demonstrate his Government’s good faith, public servants will receive support through a number of special programmes and initiatives.
- Housing Grant: A $10,000 grant for public servants to assist with the down payment on the purchase price of a home from National Housing and Urban Renewal Company.
- Vehicle Concessions: once every five years, beginning from 28th February, public servants will receive 50 percent to 100 percent waiver of import duty on new and used vehicles.
iii. Home Ownership: priority access to homes provided through National Housing will be given to Teachers, Nurses, members of the Antigua Barbuda Defense Force, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.
“For those who do not wish to purchase a home from National Housing, a special window will be established through the Construct Antigua Barbuda Initiative that will allow fast-track access to the incentives offered through this programme. Additionally, public servants will be eligible to receive concessions on the importation of household furnishings and major appliances to furnish their new homes,’ he stated.
Prime Minister Browne also revealed that Health Insurance is another areas that his Government wishes to be helpful to Public Servants. He said that the feasibility of establishing a group health insurance plan for public sector employees is currently being examined. The plan would be optional with the premium being paid by the employee and the Government.
He said that the practicality of the venture will depend on the number of public servants who would choose to participate.
To thunderous applause and cheers, the Prime Minister also announced that his government will be presenting a proposal to clear the outstanding backpay due to public servants.
“The Government proposes to settle the outstanding back pay by offering every public servant who was employed with the Government on December 31, 2002 one month of his/her basic current salary, free of any deductions. If this proposal is accepted, the Government would begin the process of clearing these arrears to public servants immediately, so that this matter can be effectively put to rest,” he said.
“I am determined that the buildup of arrears in pay to public servants will not occur in this Administration – certainly not under my watch,” the Prime Minister concluded.