ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- For the second time in two months, hundreds of government workers in Grenada are receiving salaries later than scheduled.
The late August salary payment is particularly stressful for parents with school-age children. Many budgeted for the money to buy uniforms and supplies for the reopening of schools on Monday, September 3.
In a four-paragraph, 70-word statement on Friday, the Ministry of Finance expressed government’s regret that “the payment of salaries to public workers due today, August 31, 2012 has been delayed.”
The statement promised that “government will provide an update on the payment of August salaries by early next week,” and repeated “regrets” at the “inconvenience caused by this delay and is working to resolve this difficulty in the shortest possible time.”
The ministry said, however, that payments already had been made to government pensioners and beneficiaries of public assistance.
At the end of June, salaries due to government workers were also delayed.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, in an address to the nation on Tuesday, admitted to “challenges” facing his government, but said the country is “busy” producing its way to “prosperity.”
Caribupdate News, in a radio broadcast on Friday, said, “Grenada has been struggling all year through a fiscal deficit crisis.”
The Miami-based media outlet, which also publishes internet news and commentaries, said, “The financial crisis adds to the political headache of the Tillman Thomas administration, which is avoiding total collapse of the regime for the time being by avoiding a parliamentary sitting.”
Caribupdate News quoted observers in St George’s as saying that it’s “the state of the economy more than politics that might force the government to reconvene the parliament. One opposition MP said it is his view that the government will need parliamentary approval for the extension of its overdraft facilities by October.”
Meanwhile, the opposition New National Party's shadow minister for education, Delma Thomas, has expressed empathy with the teachers of the nation who have to begin a new school year on Monday without their salaries for August.
"As we speak there is no clear indication nor clear commitment by Finance Minister Nazim Burke as to when teachers and other workers will get paid," Thomas noted.
"Our nation's teachers who have had to work under very trying circumstances with the lack of resources to help them carry out their duties, now have the additional burden of their worsening personal financial situation," Thomas said.
The non-payment of salaries, she noted, has also affected parents in general who were depending on the money to help prepare their children for the new school term.
"This financial crisis has hit home hard not just to teachers, but to thousands of students whose parents are today in no position to provide them with all the necessities for the new school term," Thomas noted.
"As we speak the entire education system is in crisis," she added.
Thomas noted: "This crisis will put a damper on the start of the school year as both teachers and students are being directly affected. Many parents have said they cannot send their children out to school on the first day of the year."
Thomas said the current situation speaks to the mismanagement of the economy by the Tillman Thomas administration, and the inability under the stewardship of Nazim Burke to introduce policies that will stir economic growth.
"Today the education sector reflects the wider sector of our nation -- brought to its knees by bad administration," she said.
"We call on the nation's teachers to be strong and to be steadfast even in the face of unbearable odds," Thomas said.