ASUNCION – The union representing workers at Paraguay’s state-owned electric utility said on Wednesday that the government’s calculation of the cost of providing permanent positions to 300 temporary employees was greatly inflated.
The Treasury said making those 300 workers permanent staff would cost $3.4 million over a period of six months.
“These figures seem very inflated,” Esteban Montania, the secretary-general of the Sitrande union, told EFE on Wednesday. He estimated that that amount of money could benefit 600 workers over an entire year.
The Finance Ministry on Tuesday proposed both the measure benefiting temporary workers and an additional outlay of $3.1 million for a wage hike with a view to bringing an end to a strike at the National Electricity Administration (ANDE).
Finance Minister Lea Gimenez said the offer was “quite reasonable,” adding that the company was experiencing financial difficulties due to the failure to make necessary investments in the past.
She also recalled that higher revenue from a hike in electricity rates in March had been earmarked for investments as opposed to salary increases.
ANDE ended 2016 with a net loss of more than 73 billion guaranies ($13 million), compared with a net income of more than 107 billion guaranies in 2015.
The company, however, has posted better results thus far in 2017, with net income of more than 442 billion guaranies through September, according to the utility’s Web site.