Non-executive officials will receive 4.5% COLA by the end of the year

Prime Minister Wayne Panton in Parliament on Friday

(CNS): Officials of grade E and below on the wage scale can expect three special payments of $150, which they will receive this month and in July and August, to help them cope with the rising cost of living. This precedes a 2% salary increase which will be rolled out to all levels and an additional 2.5% for those in grade E and below. Prime Minister Wayne Panton announced the pay rise in parliament on Friday, saying it would come from the existing budget.

The prime minister said this, along with plans to cut nearly everyone’s fuel bills with a $5 million fuel factor subsidy, was one of many policies PACT had already put in place. implemented or announced to help families fight inflation.

After “months of work”, PACT is rolling out a number of new initiatives that Panton says would help people cope with the rising cost of living plaguing Cayman and most countries around the world. He told MPs and the public in a statement that in addition to a long list of measures already taken to help those in need, a wide range of new policies would help mitigate the worst of the impact.

“We are working very hard to contain or reduce costs for the people of this country,” Panton said in his speech, following the shorter statement he said on Thursday in response to criticism from the Leader of the Opposition that PACT had done nothing to tackle inflation. The Prime Minister denied this and listed more than a dozen targeted and broader initiatives already rolled out that have helped people in need and families in general.

On Friday, he gave more details on some of the new policies that have already been announced, including the expansion of CINICO services as well as the provision of mortgages at fixed rates for two years at 3.75%, well below the prime rate, via Cayman Islands. Islands Development Bank.

He said the government was also in talks with the other local banks to improve lending conditions and was close to finalizing an initiative to improve the rights of homeowners in circumstances where they experience defaults on their mortgages. .

As well as building at least 100 new affordable homes through the National Housing Development Trust, the government intends to put affordable land up for sale, he said, adding that the CIG was working with local farmers to improve food production and reduce costs. as well as strengthening food security with regional trade agreements.

Panton said accelerating renewable energy by investing public funds in large-scale infrastructure would stabilize energy costs and address threats to the supply chain as well as the environment.

The two new initiatives are the temporary assistance program for residential electricity costs and an increase in the cost of living for civil servants, the largest employer in the Cayman Islands.

“The PACT government has had discussions with major utility providers and will set aside over C$5 million to help families across the three islands cope with rising electricity costs resulting from the increased fuel costs during the months of July and August. and September, the hottest months of the year and when electricity consumption is highest,” he said.

The aid will be reserved for residential customers and capped at consumption up to 2,000 kWh per month. “We will finalize details with both utility companies and issue a more detailed announcement the week of June 20. This initiative will help some 22,000 households across our three islands,” the Prime Minister told his colleagues.

He also said officials would see a 2% allowance, which would come from savings made under the existing approved budget. Non-executive government employees, those at grade E or below, will also receive three payments of $150 per month to help with higher utility costs over the summer. “These fees will begin this month and continue through August. It will only be paid to non-managerial staff, at E grades and below,” he said.

Panton pointed out that governments around the world face the same dilemma of how to safely navigate an uncertain future, bring relief to its citizens and mitigate the impact of inflation, especially on the middle class and the poor. low income families.

“Although our government has limited levers, given that the existing drivers of inflation are global factors such as supply chain constraints, war and a pandemic, the PACT government remains committed to doing this. that we can,” he said.

In September, when schools reopen, the civil service will receive the sustained 2% wage increase across all areas. Then, in December, qualified employees in non-managerial grades will receive, through salary progression, an increase, which is valued at approximately 2.5% of salary. Thus, by the end of the year, civil servants will benefit from a salary increase of 4.5% plus $450 in three monthly installments.

“These are difficult times due to driving forces beyond our control,” the prime minister said. “Yet, working together and within the approved budget, we will all get through this.” He said they were the government employees the country would rely on “to help us overcome the daunting challenges that lie ahead as they are called upon to carry out government policies.”

Panton said 4,400 public servants are the foundation of the community. “Investment in this Caymanian-dominated institution has a high multiplier effect in our economy as they anchor their extended families and are equally essential in keeping local small businesses and retailers afloat,” he said, noting that all increases would be financed by savings. within the existing human resources budget.

“In addition to implementing this fiscal strategy, they must also continue to ensure that the political priorities of the government are also achieved. This public service has done it before and I am confident it will do it again,” the Prime Minister said. Panton said he wished the government could do even more, but he was doing what he could while remaining fiscally prudent and sustainable.

“We will be watching the performance of our budgets closely to see what might be possible in the years to come,” he said. “The local cost of living situation has been brewing for years and the recent spike is almost entirely due to factors beyond this government’s control.”

Panton continued: “The reality is that there is a limit to what political and financial leaders can do against rising inflation, especially given the various causes, but we will continue to do whatever is in our power to help reduce the cost of goods and services. to the inhabitants of these islands where possible”, concluded the Prime Minister.

Watch the Prime Minister’s speech to Parliament on CIGTV below:

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