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Cost-of-living adjustment will cost St. Maarten Government NAf. 17 Million

13 DECEMBER 2011

PHILIPSBURG–The government announced on Monday that financing the 2010 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for teachers and public servants – including the pension reserves – will cost approximately NAf. 17 million.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams also reiterated government’s position “to explore available options” to make good on its “initial position regarding the adjustments to the salaries in 2012 to compensate for the 2010 cost-of-living index.”

According to a Department of Communications DComm press release Monday, Wescot-Williams met with members of the Organised Consultative Body GOA earlier in the day and apprised them about the 2010 COLA payment.
It said Monday’s meeting with the GOA had been held after the Prime Minister had met with Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger and Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto.

DComm said the Prime Minister stated in her meeting with the GOA that Government was cognisant of the GOA’s position and of the concerns voiced by the union representatives in the GOA.
The Prime Minister also explained that while the salary policy stated that government would index salaries according to the price index, it also stated that a decision would be taken annually on the basis of financial feasibility.

DComm added: “The determination that the financial situation offered little manoeuvring space was made long after the decision to make the payment was communicated to the GOA. “On the other hand, the Prime Minister was quite forthcoming in her assessment that the indexing of salaries should be examined as, in its current form, the impact on future pension payments is formidable.”In the meantime, the Prime Minister conceded that these two matters should be handled separately and she reiterated government’s stance to explore available options to make good on Government’s initial position regarding the adjustments to the salaries in 2012 to compensate for the 2010 cost-of-living index.”

It said that with regard to the matter of salary indexation in general, the parties concurred that there was a need for a more structural approach in dealing with this matter and a meeting would be convened in the near future to address this issue.

The Prime Minister also promised to convene a meeting of the Council of Ministers and the GOA on her return from the Netherlands, “at which time she anticipates that more concrete information will be available and the matter of the COLA payment can be resolved.”

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