January 13, 2012
Eustace: Government committed to IMF strategy

It appears that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration may have committed itself to a number of strategies as outlined in a document put forward by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to curb the current trend of negative growth in this country.{{more}}

But while calling the decision to do so a “wise” one, Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace contended that the government may have been “politically uncomfortable” to implement the measures contained in the document entitled ‘St Vincent and the Grenadines: Options for Expenditure based Fiscal Consolidation’.

Eustace, while making his contribution to the Budget debate on Tuesday, January 10, contended that not only did the government commit itself to the IMF, but it was the ULP led administration that made a request for the document to be published.

“When you look at the document, there are things in there which the government and all the staff knew about,” the Leader of the Opposition said.

The IMF suggested several options, Eustace outlined, including freezing wages for a period of three years, reducing allowances and benefits and introducing a performance management system.

Eustace explained that the government had already agreed to contain the wage bill until the fiscal situation improved from as early as February 2011.

“How many people knew that?” he questioned.

There was further evidence that the government had taken the advice of the IMF to freeze the salary structure and grant only the increments as there was an extra $7 million contained in the Estimates to facilitate this Eustace pointed out.

A decision was also made to streamline spending on goods and services the Opposition Leader contended.

But while Eustace calls the decision to follow on the advice of the IMF a “wise” one, he said that the government should have discussed the planned course of action with the public service.

The point, according to Eustace, was that the commitments by the government had already been made to the IMF, but when were they made?

He said that there needed to be a broad acceptance so that the people could understand the state of the finances of the country.

“I believe that it is important that we discuss these things openly with our public servants. We recognize economic difficulty and we have to take action to deal with this difficulty, but you need

to sit down and discuss the issue,” Eustace said. (DD)