Negotiations begin for salary increases
Guyana Chronicle
April 19, 2004

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DURING the last financial year achievements were made in growth, higher production, employment, economic stability and the creation of an environment for investment.

This view was expressed by the Minister of Public Service, Dr. Jennifer Westford during the final session of the budget debate last Friday.

She observed that this government has been continually increasing expenditure on social sector programmes, because it has never overlooked the concerns of people, adding that the minimum wage was increased from $3,000 in 1992 to $20,000 in 2003, and that negotiations have already begun for salary increases this year.

This working class oriented government will continue to improve the lot of the workers, Dr. Webster assured, recalling the wage freeze imposed from 1979-1982 by the former People's National Congress (PNC) government. She recalled too that under that government public servants forcibly had to perform duties on a farm which was not part of their work.

Dr. Webster told the National Assembly that as part of the programme to have a properly trained workforce the sum of $35M has been earmarked for training-both locally and overseas. She disclosed that presently 246 students are pursuing tertiary studies abroad in the fields of medicine, engineering, agriculture and management among others.

In addition, further training is being conducted as part of the ongoing Public Sector Reform process, which is gearing the public service towards greater efficiency and a customer driven service.

Dr. Westford contended that the achievements of the government justifies its policies for the past 11 years, observing that when some issues are not addressed the opposition criticizes it, but on the other hand when problems are addressed the opposition alleges that it is done for the purpose of political mileage.

The minister reiterated that the government would use every means to implement policies for the benefit of the people, despite opposition calls to make the "country ungovernable," adding that with the will and commitment none of the problems are insurmountable.

She severely criticized the main opposition PNC/R for boycotting the budget debate, describing it as abdicating their duties to the large section of the populace who have placed their confidence in them.

She also described the move by the opposition to encourage the intervention of foreign governments into domestic affairs as being totally "repugnant."