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2011 cost of living adjustment payout 50 percent less on St. Maarten

POSTED: 04/11/13

St. Maarten – The government is willing to pay out half of the money that is owed to civil servants and teachers for the cost of living adjustment (Cola) for 2011, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams told Parliament yesterday. In 2011, the cost of living increased by 4.6 percent which meant that salaries for government workers should have also been adjusted by 4.6 percent. Instead the government says that it will only pay out 2.3 percent, which has been placed on the draft 2013 Budget.

“Financially it is untenable. If we continue like this the personnel costs in the budget would increase drastically,” the prime minister said.

MP Jules James requested clarification on when the payment of the 2011 Cola will be made. The prime minister responded that date has been determined especially with the budget not yet approved.

On Wednesday she dispatched a letter to the organized consultative body (GOA) reiterating that the government would not be continuing with salary indexation via the Cola and that civil servants would only be able to half of their entitlements.

The prime minister indicated that the Cola is part of a personnel policy that the government, as part of the Island Territory, had approved several years ago but it is not a law.

“In that council it mentions that the Executive Council will determine the payment of that Cola every year on the basis of the financial possibilities of government.”

Unions have threatened to send a letter to government with an ultimatum if the 2011 Cola is not paid. Finance Minister Roland Tuitt has invited a Holland based firm CAOP to assess the situation on St. Maarten and suggest alternatives.

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