GOVERNMENT IS PREPARED to listen to proposed alternatives to its plan to cut 3 000 public sector jobs but is not interested in any “Band-Aid” economic fix.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart made this clear yesterday, as he prepared for a round of discussions with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) to “see how best we can incorporate what they have to say in what it is we are doing”.
Stuart, asked about the likelihood of late changes to Government’s austerity measures that start to bite in mid-January, indicated that Government had little elbow room because the layoffs were meant to be “a very, very last resort” after six years of “holding the workers’ hands” through tough economic times.
“We have to steer clear at this stage of Band-Aid solutions,” Stuart told reporters. “We have to get to the root of the problem [and] deal with it, so that in the medium to long term everybody is happy.”
He said Government could not continue to ignore structural and systemic problems “in the interest of just wet-nursing and mollycoddling critics” of the economic restructuring plan.
“We have to see the big picture. Barbados has to be economically viable. It has to be economically sound and where tough decisions have to be taken, the Government of the people has to have the courage to take them.”