WIGUT Launches Online Petition to Have IMF Relax Ja’s Loan Agreement

The West Indies Group of University Teachers, WIGUT, is petitioning the IMF to change some of the terms of Jamaica’s economic programme.

The petition is aimed at both the IMF and its largest shareholder, the United States.

The petition is on WIGUT’s website

WIGUT is the latest group to take aim at the primary surplus target.

At 7-point-5 percent, many say it’s too burdensome, locking up funds that Jamaica could otherwise use to do many things, including stimulate the economy and give public sector workers a decent wage increase.

WIGUT wants the primary surplus target slashed by 2-percentage points, to 5-point-5 percent.

The union’s Chief Negotiator, Professor Hubert Devonish, explains how the government could use the extra fiscal space.

However, the 7-and-a-half percent target is one of the conditions on which the IMF appears reluctant to budge.

Speaking on Nationwide This Morning a month ago, the IMF’s Resident Representative to Jamaica, Bert Van Selm, explained that the target is necessary in order to balance Jamaica’s annual interest payments, which are between 7-and-8 percent.

He said it’s the only way to reduce the debt.

But Professor Devonish says there’s another way.

Devonish says the IMF should do for Jamaica what it has done for Greece, by offering debt relief.

And, WIGUT is also against limiting the public sector wage bill to 9-percent of GDP.

The public sector wage bill is currently at 10-point-1 percent of GDP.

However, WIGUT has not proposed what they would consider to be a reasonable figure.

JCTU CONCERNED

Meanwhile, the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, JCTU, is taking issue with Professor Devonish’s characterization of the role of trade unions.

Speaking on Nationwide This Morning, Professor Devonish explained why WIGUT hadn’t sought to champion macro-economic issues before now.

But, Vice President of the JCTU, Helene Davis Whyte, says the organization has a history of involvement in discussions around macro-economic issues.

She says the JCTU is on record, raising concern about the 7-point-5 percent primary surplus target.

She says they’ve even raised it with the IMF.

Mrs. Davis Whyte has taken exception to what she says is Professor Devonish’s characterization of trade unions, as a group of habitual complainers.