PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago government Monday said it
would pay an estimated TT$2.5 billion in arrears to public servants at the end of March
and blamed the former administration for saddling the country with such a burden.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, speaking in Parliament, said that the former People’s
Partnership government of Kamla Persad Bissessar had agreed to huge wage increases
at a time when there was “no source of recurrent revenue’ to meet the payment.
He told legislators that the opposition must know “that when this offer was made
and contracted with public servants there was no source of recurrent revenue to pay it.
“It had to be paid from borrowings. That is a hand over from the last government.
At the time when 14 per cent was given to public servants it was done with their eyes
wide open that there was no revenue to pay that money.
So to keep that contract we are now having to borrow,” he said.
Public servants as well as police and the members of the other security forces,
have been calling on the Rowley administration to pay the outstanding funds
with the Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke, warning last
week that all outstanding arrears owed to public servants must be paid by
“And if nothing is done and no cheques are being cut to facilitate the payment
by this month-end, then we will do what we have to do, but the feteing (partying)
is over and we are not jamming still. We want all of the back pay arrears and
there will be zero tolerance on that. We want to hear no excuse whatsoever,
none,” he told reporters.
Rowley told Parliament that the funds to pay the arrears had been had come as
a result of a “borrowing drive” by Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
“As the Minister of Finance had given a commitment earlier on to find the
monies to keep the commitment that was made in an environment where there
was significant challenges to pay these monies to public servants.
Half of those monies were paid earlier on and I can tell today Madam Speaker
that the Minister of Finance has been able to arrange the source of funds to
ensure that the monies are available by March 31 to pay public servants their
outstanding back pay”.
But Rowley warned that the payment of the back pay “will not be delayed as a
result of no funds being available after March 31 but the departments’ ability to
make the pay sheet prepared and ready for disbursements to officers”.