While noting that it was not possible to keep the 15 March increment payment date that was announced by the previous government, recently elected Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie announced that public officers will be paid their owed increments but not before the passing of the budget.
The Premier in mentioning the 15 March date was referring to comments that were made by Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Hon. Myron Walwyn on the campaign trail. The comment by Hon. Walwyn was made at a 19 February Eighth District Political rally; during which Hon. Walwyn noted that three years increments were outstanding which amounted to $9M.
The NDP Chairman said: “The new NDP government will ensure that the approximately $9 million is available immediately. We have an obligation to do so. Our current fiscal position can allow for the payments.”
He also announced that the process to have the payment ready finished and that even if his government didn’t succeed the next government could be able to pay increment. “The administrative process is virtually concluded and, as I traverse the territory, our civil servants have asked numerous times about their increments. Armed with this financial information [about the BVI’s current strong economic standing], I see no reason why these increments cannot be paid by March 15 by any government that takes office after February 25.”
However, the new Minister of Finance has dismissed this claim stating that the funding needed to pay the increments was not available: “Since taking office I have already checked on it and my research shows that the public officers are owed at least three years of increments. They have already worked for it, it is just that they have not received it … the funding was not there and the will to do it also was not there.”
Further Hon. Fahie rubbished the promises that the increments were to be paid on 15 March: “The statement of them getting the money on 15 March was an irresponsible one. First of all it could not be done during this period because we are running what you call a temporary budget until the budget is passed.”
“Second of all it was not budgeted for. Third of all to get it budgeted for it would have needed to be in the budget. All of these is what I got from Ministry of Finance when I inquired on the matter. Human Resources also was not given instructions. They could not give instructions because there was no money,” Hon. Fahie explained.
Nonetheless, the Premier mentioned that public officers will at least receive two years of their increment. “We sat down and given the finances of the Territory what we did is we are going to pay two years of the increment in this upcoming budget and then God spare life next year we are going to be able to pay the balance of it. That is what I know but is going to be dealt with when the budget is passed”.