As the Gaston Browne Administration continues struggling to meet its wage bill – and is promising public servants an increase by the end of the year – the Prime Minister has admitted that the Government has been borrowing to meet wages and salaries on a monthly basis.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, October 24, Barbuda MP Trevor Walker had asked Browne for confirmation of such borrowings during the “Questions to Prime Minister” segment. He also sought to find out how much, in total, the Administration has borrowed to meet its wage bill.
In response, Browne admitted that, at times, there are revenue shortfalls to be filled.
The Government’s annual wage bill is now more now $440 million – which Browne acknowledges is extremely high and contributing to the Administration’s struggle.
However, he is still promising that public servants will get their promised salary increase, with Walker asking whether this will happen prior to the General Elections.
The Government also continues to bloat the wage bill with pre-election hires – which critics say is its usual ploy – when many of these persons have nothing to do.
Others point out that the Administration does not care, since, because of the usual bureaucracy, these salaries will be delayed for at least three months. They note that some of the new employees will wait, while others will become frustrated and leave the system – which, REAL News was told, happened after the last elections.
Meanwhile, Walker is concerned that the Government has not been meeting its financial obligation to retirees. In some cases, persons who have reached retirement age have been waiting for almost two years to receive their gratuity payments from the Treasury.
However, PM Browne blames that situation on bureaucracy, adding that the Government will have to put better mechanisms in place to tackle this decades-old issue.