Prime Minister Wescot Meets with GOA Membership; COLA to costs Naf.17 million

Following a meeting with Vice Prime Minister Hon. Theo Heyliger and Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto on Monday, Prime Minister Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams met with members of the Organized Consultative Body (GOA), to apprise them of the state of affairs with regard to the 2010 cost of living adjustment (COLA) payment.

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The total amount of this indexation, including the pension reserves is approximately Naf.17 million.

The Prime Minister stated that Government is cognizant of the GOA’s position and the concerns voiced by the union members of that body.

The Prime Minister explained that while the salary policy states that government will index salaries according to the price index, it also states that annually a decision will be taken on the basis of the financial feasibility.

The determination that the financial situation offered little maneuvering 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.

With regard to the matter of salary indexation in general, parties concur that there is a need for a more structural approach in dealing with this matter. A meeting in the near future is to be convened with regard hereto.

The Prime Minister promised to convene a meeting of the Council of Ministers and the "GOA", upon 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.