Grenada Opposition urges gov’t to take pay cut

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada: Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has announced he will consider a pay cut for members of his nine month-old administration but insisted that the main opposition New National Party (NNP) lacked the moral authority to call on the government to do so.

Thomas was responding to a call from the NNP for ministers of government to take a 10 per cent wage cut because of the harsh economic times being experienced in Grenada. Thomas said the NNP, under the leadership of then Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, had failed to make such sacrifices after Hurricane Ivan ravaged the country in 2004.

“I do not think the opposition has the moral authority to ask us to make sacrifices. The best opportunity that was provided for sacrifices to be made was after Hurricane Ivan,” he said.

Thomas accused Mitchell of collecting EC$4,500 (US$1,680) per month “for living in his own house” after the hurricane devastated the island.

“That is reprehensible. That was a time for sacrifice and they (the former government) did not do it. I do not think they have any moral authority in that respect,” Thomas said. “But whilst people were living in shacks and did not have adequate housing, he (Mitchell) was living in his house and at the same time collecting tax from the taxpayers of this country for living in his own house, so I am saying that is no example at all to come and talk about sacrifice.”

The NNP issued a statement refuting that its members did not take a pay cut during the post-Ivan period.

The concept of governments taking pay cuts has become a major issue across the Caribbean since Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, announced that he was taking a 15 per cent reduction in salary last week and encouraged other parliamentarians to follow his lead by taking a 10 per cent reduction.

The NNP also pointed to Golding’s action as another reason why the Thomas administration should accept salary reductions.

“The government has been calling on workers and citizens in general to make sacrifices and to prepare for the impact of the global crisis. However, the Opposition believes that while all Grenadians would be expected to make sacrifices, member of the Tillman Thomas government must lead by example,” said the NNP.

Thomas said while he was not ignoring the call for his cabinet to take a pay cut, his administration has made sacrifices since entering office, including slashing advisors’ wages in half when compared to the previous administration.

“It’s a call that one would have to give consideration to. From the beginning, we had set out to be a sacrificial government,” the Prime Minister said. “We set out to cut back on wastage, to be efficient in what we are doing and to utilize the resources of the state to the benefit of all.”

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