The Miami Herald
May 19, 2000

 Mass layoff under way in Honduras

 TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- (EFE) -- The Honduran government on Thursday
 announced a mass layoff in the public sector as part of a general effort to cut

 Honduran Finance Minister Gabriela Nuñez did not say how many people were let
 go, but did state that $3.4 million was made available to pay off loans.

 The layoff plan will not affect the police, armed forces, medical services (currently
 affected by a nurses' strike), education nor the reconstruction efforts to rebuild the
 areas destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

 Honduran President Carlos Flores ordered the dismissal of nonessential
 employees and those who earn less than $308 over a 45-day period.

 The government also ordered the elimination of 60 percent of all vacant public
 posts, and froze the remaining 40 percent. Overtime pay also will be cut by 15

 The plan includes spending cuts in fuel, vehicles, repair parts, traveling expenses
 and other services.

 The announcement coincided with the arrival of the managing director of the
 International Monetary Fund (IMF), Horst Koehler, who will study the Honduran
 economy and review the government's debt with IMF, among other topics.

 The Finance minister said that these measures will help cut government spending
 by $20 million to compensate for the fall in tax revenues.

 The National Association of Public Employees of Honduras declared an alert and
 rejected the decision, calling it damaging to state employees.