BVI Can't Afford Christmas Bonus For Public Servants--Premier

Sherine Williams, Journalist | December 07, 2017 6:18 am MST
Photo Credit: Sherine Williams/BVI Platinum News
Amid news that the St. Kitts & Nevis government will give pubic servants Christmas bonuses, Premier Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith has indicated that the BVI is not in a position to give any such bonuses at this time.

The St. Kitts & Nevis government is known for giving Christmas bonuses to public servants at Christmas time. This year, the government has indicated that it will give double salary bonuses to help alleviate the stress currently being experienced by several households, because of impact from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

When BVI Platinum News asked Premier Smith if there is chance of his government giving bonuses to public servants to alleviate stress from the September Hurricanes, the Premier said it would be very difficult to make such a decision.

"I understand that they (St. Kitts) do this every year and this is commendable. But you will appreciate that BVI had significant damage to the economy and it would be very difficult for the BVI to say that we are giving double salary bonuses," Premier Smith explained.

"We have to do what we can to ensure that government services continue to function, make sure the recovery goes into place; that's where we have to put the resources," the Premier added.

The St Kitts & Nevis cabinet said in giving the bonuses, the fiscal performance of the federal government was taken into consideration, adding that a surplus was recently reflected on its recurrent account, the overall account and the government's primary account.

The BVI however, has not seen any such surplus as the economy plunged after the September hurricanes. The Territory's damage is estimated at some $3.6 billion - three times more that the annual earnings.

Immediately after the devastation, the government indicated that it would be focusing on providing essential services. This statement triggered anxiety among many, who were anxious about possible job cuts in the public service due to a decrease in government revenue.

However, Premier Smith had later indicated that his government isn't looking to make any cuts to the public service.

Education Minister, Hon. Myron Walwyn had also indicated that he would not support any move to cut the public service.

The BVI government projects that it's Gross Domestic Product will contract by 40 percent in 2018.
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