The venerable Economist Magazine has declared that Europe is in the midst of an Olive Oil crisis. This crisis no doubt threatens to leave many a salad naked or at least having to don less than favourable evening wear; but more importantly it threatens the balance of power in Eastern Europe. In particular Russia has found a new friend in salad loving Germany which in turn is busy sticking it to the hapless Greeks whose Prime Minister is worried that Britain might foreclose on the Acropolis.

Here on the domestic front it’s another year, another Financial Secretary; but the same chaos and bungling from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. In March the administration tabled a J$499.5 Billion dollar budget that has quickly crept to J$503.5 Billion, all this and the budget debate has not yet even begun. However, in defence of the civil servants at 30 Heroes Circle the blame for the arithmetic mistake should be shared with the International Monetary Fund. In fact given that, that institution was given the lion’s share of the accolades for crafting the smaller budget, then the IMF should not be spared any of the negative applause.

Most economic analyst have focused on the fact that the government has slashed its projected capital expenditure for the upcoming Fiscal Year or the fact that the debt servicing call on the budget has slimmed down from 55% to 47% on a smaller budget. However, here at PINK what we find most interesting is the fact that the J$130 Billion allocated for salaries in the public service is roughly equivalent to that allocated in the previous year’s budget. This is indicative that the administration intends to keep its promise of “no shock treatment to the public sector”. As a consequence whilst Zena the Warrior Nurse may fast and pray for increased salaries, she can be assured that all nurses will have jobs at least until the 2011 Fiscal Year.

However, public sector workers should regard this year’s budget as the On Your Marks budget, as without a doubt the Chief Cutter will be wielding her scissors through the Civil Service and related public sector bodies by December of this year. The potential impact is that by March 31, 2011 staff positions will evaporate. The upshot, however, is that this is a year’s advanced notice and as such those public sector workers currently working without being formally appointed must begin the process of dialogue with their relevant Human Resource Departments to regularize their positions.

Impact on the Rainbow Economy

While no study has ever been conducted on the economic profile of rainbow community members, it is known that the government is the largest employer in the country. Further, government hiring and promotion policies while not specifically community friendly have been in the main enabling. In other words, whilst Community Members are barred from Cabinet positions under the present administration, they can be found at Jamaica House, Heroes Circle or any Ministry, Department or Agency of Government in senior positions.

Importantly, where as the government’s budget provides job security for at least one more year the economic reality is that public sector employees will see a real erosion in income of approximately 10% due to the impact of inflation, bus fare increases, and increases in NIS. In the final analysis it may mean that the party scene may become a little emptier this year.



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