By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Political leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent, has urged public sector unions to reject government proposals to cut civil service wages until other pressing financial and economic issues have been addressed.
Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) leader Therold Prudent
“While it is of the utmost importance for any government to take proactive measures to reduce its budget expenditure, it is also critical that all governments consider carefully the consequences of their own actions and how these contribute to their nations’ financial paralysis,” Prudent said, referring to the recently stated intentions of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government to explore the possibility of asking the public sector unions to take a five percent pay cut.
In summarising what he believes is a blatant excuse to avoid addressing the serious issue of the nation’s mounting expenditure, Prudent argued that the government has conveniently ignored the need to revisit its decision to populate the public sector with consultants who are hired to perform recurring tasks throughout the life of the government.
Such practices, he said, are not only counterproductive to the operation of a financially sound government but also grossly undermine the effectiveness of the equally well trained civil servants who were hired to perform those very same functions within the various ministries and other government agencies.
“The mere fact that this government is bent on offering long-term consultative employment to its cronies proves that it is more concerned about this than it is about the consequences that such a negative practice continues to have on the financial resources of the country,” he continued.
Prudent also suggested that, if the government is truly serious about reducing its budget expenditure, its focus ought to be directed at overhauling the structure and operational methods of its consulates and embassies abroad, which are, by far, among the most unproductive governmental sectors contributing to poverty in Saint Lucia.
“Isn’t it ironic that the government of Saint Lucia spends millions of dollars to maintain these foreign facilities, yet we have very little to show for our investments in terms of jobs and other economic advancements?
“In this regard, it may be appropriate for the public services union, whose members rely on that five percent of their current monthly salary to make ends meet, to refuse any proposal by the government for a pay cut, until it has dealt with the issues of consultancy hiring, embassies and consulates,” Prudent concluded.