Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley says her government will be dishing out $75,000 in cash to former LIAT workers.
Mottley made the statement last night, while she was wrapping up the debate on the 2023 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in the House of Assembly
She said the latest decision is in keeping with a commitment from her government to honor about 89 former LIAT workers, paying almost $10 million in cash and bonds in severance.
“About two years ago I met with the workers and I said to them at that time I could not deal with the issue of your severance. We were in all kinds of discussions, but above all else, we just did not have the fiscal capacity to do it then, especially in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
The prime minister also recalled that her government agreed to a $2,000 payment to help these workers.
But now she said her government is in better financial standings and will pay these workers who have been lamenting about their severance pay.
“So my office has been doing work and has done a detailed sheet that now puts me in a position, I believe, to put aspects of this to rest. And we want, therefore, to announce tonight that the government of Barbados and the government of Saint Lucia has already done it for Saint Lucian workers…And so the government of Barbados will take responsibility for all of the Barbadian workers and that the government of Barbados will pay up to $75,000 in cash to each and every person in terms of their calculated severance liability, and that any number for severance over $75,000 will be paid in bonds…” Mottley said.
Agreeing that these people would have had to endure hardship over the years, Mottley said the government could not have done it earlier.
“But I believe that the opportunity that was presented to us in between these two programs and with what we have with respect to the outturn has allowed us to make some decisions that are in the favor of the people of Barbados. Not the people of another continent or another country as you were led to believe in the last few days, Mr. Speaker”
She said “that $75,000 to every person will come to just about $4,074,000. And the bonds that will then have to go to them to make up the difference. For everything over $75,000, I believe, is in the vicinity roughly of just under $6 million. And the government of Barbados therefore will make the appropriate arrangements”
Mottley has already instructed the Director of Finance and Economic Affairs, who she said is on duty leave at the Inter-American Development Bank meetings.
“As soon as he returns next week, he is to meet with the representatives of the employees and put in place the payments for the $75,000 in cash for everyone…The majority will be paid off with the $75,000 payment. And the others who have an entitlement beyond that will receive the difference in bonds,” she added.
Adding, “I wish I could be a fairy godmother instead of a prime minister because then I could grant you your every wish. But I live in the land of the real, and I am trying to lead a government that was dealt the worst hand that any government that came to office in this country has been dealt since coming to independence,” Mottley said
The prime minister said that her government has tried “step by step by step to do right by the people, whether pensioners, whether young, whether poor black people, middle-class people, whether people who are in Barbados but our circumstances require us to dig deeper and to take in more and to reach higher”