Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said that his administration had always taken the position that, as far as possible, resorting to layoffs would be “a kind of last option when every other option has failed”.
Stuart told reporters that the issue was being discussed within the context of the state of the local economy, stressing that the government was in a 19-month programme to try to restore the economy and only three months had gone by.
“So, I am not in a position to say that there will be layoffs or that there will not be layoffs because the Cabinet has not taken any decision on that issue.
“But, we are looking, as we said we would do, at how the 19-month programme upon which we embarked is unfolding.
“And whatever action we need to take to ensure that Barbados remains stable and economically viable we will take, but not take whimsically or just capriciously, we (will) take it after careful study of what the objective circumstances are. I am not in a position to say anything else beyond that,” Stuart said.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the country had some revenue challenges, which would obviously affect governments’ expenditure.
“I told the House of Assembly, I think last week, that of the revenues that Government earns, 54.3 per cent of those revenues are spent on wages and salaries. Now that percentage is not a frightening percentage if you are earning all of the revenue you need to pay wages and salaries comfortably.
“That percentage, though, becomes a challenge when your corporate tax revenues are down, when your income taxes are down, when your property taxes are challenged and, therefore, within the context of those realities, the monies spent on wages and salaries would have to be examined,” he added.
Stuart said that if the government was employing people,” it has to be able to afford to pay them”.
He reiterated that his government’s primary responsibility “is to ensure that the national [economic] structure is sound”, so people could feel safe.