The Antigua and Barbuda government says it will not be paying bonuses or making salary advances to public sector workers this Christmas, and blamed the situation this year on the impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, the Gaston Browne administration said that the Cabinet meeting on Thursday had reviewed the fiscal position of the government, and the revenue intake of the treasury, the statutory corporations, and several government authorities.
“The fiscal state of the government is severely challenged as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on economic activity since March 2020. The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda has therefore determined that the treasury, the statutory corporations, and the state’s several authorities are not now in a position to pay bonuses, or to make advances to staff.
“The difficult position in which the government bodies find themselves commenced nearly nine months ago when borders were closed, and those conditions will not dissipate for a few months yet,” the statement said.
It said that the Cabinet determined that the conditions in the major markets with which Antigua and Barbuda carries on trade, whether in goods or services, “are not likely to improve until after the first quarter of 2021. Consequently, no bonus payments will be paid in 2020.
“The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda regrets this set of circumstances. Nevertheless, the government has ensured that all workers employed by the statutory corporations, the several government authorities, and by the central government have received their wages and salaries in full and on-time.”
The statement said that the government appreciates the forbearance and patience of all workers who may have counted on the bonuses and the advances which would normally have been paid.
“The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all economies, resulting in lay-offs and terminations of many employees in Antigua and Barbuda, and around the world. Not a single employee of the statutory corporations, the government authorities, and employees of the central government has been laid-off,” it said.
The government said that it will continue to engage the several bargaining agents of the workers on the issue of paying bonuses.