Saint Lucia civil servants are requesting that the government pay them tax free retroactive salaries resulting from just concluded negotiations.
The request was made on behalf of the civil servants by the President of the Saint Lucia Civil Service Association(CSA), Cyprian Montrope, in a statement Tuesday.
It was headlined: Should Public Officers sacrifice for the state in the future?
Montrope’s statement is reproduced below:
At every negative turn of events in the economy, Governments always call on Public Officers to sacrifice at the expense of the State, and Public Officers grant Government its wish in every instance,
For the period 2013-2016 triennium, Public Officers were asked to forego wage negotiations. Despite the negative impact of the economy on their living standards, Public Officers agreed to a wage freeze for all three (3) years allowing the State the breathing space to maneuver its expenditure. This sacrifice contributed to the Government being able to resuscitate the economy.
Given the sacrifices made by Public Officers, the Unions requested of the Government that the payment of the retroactive salary resulting from the just concluded negotiations be taxfree. Government flatly rejected the request.
Importantly, Public Officers have gone without an increase in salary from April 2013. Had the Officers received their increases at the commencement of April 2016, these officers would have placed their income to active use either in savings, investments in homes, education, their children, their families, etc. The Unions’ request for a tax waiver for just over 9000 Public Officers would amount to less than one million dollars for the period, while Government have granted foreign companies tax waivers amounting to millions upon millions of dollars a year.
The Unions have noticed that there are companies that have made no sacrifices for the state, for example, OJO-LABS with less than 10% of size of the government service (they received Government subsidy of over 5 million dollars), Sandals who collected State funds, and were allowed to keep over 24 million dollars, and yet those who made sacrifices (Public Officers) are being denied the opportunity to share a small benefit resulting from that sacrifice.
Considering the foregoing, we find the Government to be exceptionally unreasonable and un-empathetic towards the plight of Public Officers, notwithstanding all the sacrifices made by these officers over the last six (6) years.
Given the situation highlighted above, the question must be asked should Public Officers ever be called again to sacrifice on behalf of 170,000 citizens?
The St. Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) is calling on Government to reconsider its decision of not granting tax waivers to Public Officers, and hope that with the payment of salaries in August, Public Officers will enjoy their retroactive pay free of income tax.