Prime Minister Keith Mitchell has sought to assure public servants who are appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and due to retire soon that they will receive their pensions this year as part of the first stage of implementing the landmark pension judgment handed down by the High Court Judge Justice Raulston Glasgow in March.
The announcement came on Sunday as the incumbent leader outlined his government’s plan to pay pensions in keeping with the High Court ruling during a political rally at LaSagesse in St. David.
“As a first stage of implementing that pension judgement, all entitled public officers appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC), who will retire in 2022, at the legally accepted retirement age of 60, will be paid their pension during this year, 2022,” Prime Minister Mitchell told supporters, approximately three (3) weeks ahead of the highly anticipated June 23 election.
Dr. Mitchell disclosed that the pension payment plans for public officers who will retire the following year in 2023 will be catered for in the 2023 budget.
“When the budget is being presented for 2023 at the end of 2022, those public servants that will retire in 2023, the pension payment will be in the budget document that we will bring forth for that year – so, those in 2023 will also be paid their payment,” he said.
However, the Prime Minister indicated that with regards to the pensions that are outstanding and are due to those who retired long before this year “we will have a phased approach for payment consistent with the national cash flow, and that will be announced shortly.”
“I cannot fool you … we (are) going to pay all now, and anybody that tell you that they are trying to fool you,” he cautioned.
Two weeks ago, Deputy Director-General for Budget and Fiscal Policy in the Ministry of Finance, Dennis Cornwall, the NDC candidate for the rural St. Patrick East constituency announced that an “NDC government will pay the outstanding pension due to public officers within the first six (6) months in office.”
PM Mitchell contends that “it is one thing to say you will honour the judgement, it is another thing to have people in place to ensure that the judgement is honoured in truth and in fact.”
Noting that the pension ruling is the largest and most challenging fiscal issue facing the island, the Grenadian leader told supporters that “it is a legacy issue” for him.
“In other words, when I leave this job, I want to be remembered for having solved that problem. So, believe me when I say yet again, the NNP will find a way, and will pay those workers their pension benefit.
“We don’t pay the judgement by offering pie in the sky, we pay the judgement by ensuring there is a genuine government in place that can do so without endangering the rest of the economy of the country.
Moments before, Foreign Minister, Oliver Joseph, who was launched as the NNP Candidate for St David at the La Sagesse Playing field had bashed the plan of the NDC of Dickon Mitchell to borrow money to pay the pension.
According to Minister Joseph who is seeking his third term as Member of Parliament for the constituency “this approach by Congress should not be the preferred economic option” as it would “increase the debt stock, taking us back to the days from where we come from.”
Increased debt, he said, coupled with the main opposition’s proposal to reduce VAT and Customs duties at the port on certain items is a recipe for disaster.
“So, they going to reduce the VAT, and duties at the port but at the same time increase expenditure. Well, you don’t have to be an economist to know that is disaster. How will you fill the gap? So, when you increase the debt and continue borrowing, and violate the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which financial institution giving you money?
That is not surprising because the same economic advisors that brought the debt to GDP ratio to 108% (back then) they are the ones advising now.
This is disaster for Grenada (and) we cannot take chances – you cannot borrow your way out of this crisis.
What this capable NNP team will do is to grow the economy, and this party has a history of growing the economy…tell them that is how we will be able to meet the payment.
And, that is why during (the coronavirus) pandemic, your government (was able to) pay 4% increase in 2020, 2021, and 2022, (and was) the only Caribbean government to pay increase in a pandemic. So, brothers and sisters, the only government that would pay the pensions in a sustainable way is the NNP government.”