“He that bringeth his case first seemeth just until it is carefully examined”, proverbs 18:17. The above proverb is applicable to the press release purportedly coming from the office of the Prime Minister (PM) which was published in three of the daily newspapers on Tuesday 31st 2017, concerning relative increases in salaries of the Presidents, Ministers and Public servants over the years 1998 to 2014. Please allow me to make some simple observations:
Firstly, if it is true that the salary increases given by the PPP/C were according to the Prime Minister “unconscionable and disgraceful” then the Prime Minister who has now positioned himself as an arbiter of fairness and holds himself out as the epitome of decency, should have refused the increase on an already high salary in 2015, granted by the Granger government to the newly elected Ministers on the Prime Minister’s words, “unconscionable and disgraceful”.
The question then needs to be asked, what adjectives will best describe the huge salary increases that the APNU/AFC government gave themselves one (1) month after being in office: indecent, reckless, hypocritical and even deceptive; especially when this was disclosed by the media, denied by the government spokespersons and subsequently discovered to be secretly done and gazetted.
This matter was debated in the Parliament with the opposition calling for an annulment of the order granting the increases to the President, Prime Minister, Vice Presidents, Ministers and Junior Ministers, some 28 in number. This unpalatable situation continues to fester and haunt the David Granger led administration with even their members and supporters crying out against this betrayal of trust. Obviously this unpopular decision has resulted in the APNU/AFC Government resorting to propaganda and in an act of desperation stage-managed the question by the Hon. Jermaine Ferrigura and the answer by the Hon. Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance was opportunistically used by the Prime Minister with speedy orchestrated response.
At this stage, I will not digress into a realm outside of what was said in this carefully choreographed question and answer segment of the National Assembly, but will use the Minister’s answer to debunk what is being misconstrued to deceive a population at its boiling point of anger against this unpopular administration because of the several inhumane, anti-poor decisions by the Coalition government.
In 1999 and 2000 the Armstrong tribunal recommendations were adopted and public servants received increases of 31.06% and 26.66% respectively. Minister Jordan’s answer in Parliament disclosed that the Jagdeo government did not bureaucratically grab the opportunity to increase their salary similar to that given to public servants. In essence neither the President nor the Ministers in the Jagdeo government were provided with similar increases enjoyed by public servants for that year. In the same answer Minister Jordan revealed that in no less than three occasions the President and or Ministers were not given any salary increases whatsoever.
The Minister of Finance in his answer said that the President’s salary was indexed in 2006 to that of the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the Attorney General. The Ministers salary was indexed to that of Permanent Secretaries, although the records would show that the salary of some Permanent Secretaries (OP& MOF) remains far in excess of the remuneration received by Cabinet Ministers.
The clear case in point, is that the PPP/C took office in 1992 and it was not until 14 years later after we would have developed Guyana, repaired infrastructure, achieved debt relief, stabilized the economy, fixed health and education services, improved disposable income of the ordinary man, expanded the middle class, made significant investments in the development of the rural and hinterland communities, implemented policies for the revitalisation of the private sector; making Guyana attractive for investment and the overall improvement in the standard of living of all Guyanese before correcting what can be considered an anomaly. By this time our budget recurrent expenditure reflected a commitment to pro-poor expenditure to almost 60%.
It is important to note there was no public outcry, there was no public rebuke, and there was no secrecy in relation to the PPP/C salary increases. This was gazetted, publically known and not handled in an underhand and devious manner. The people saw a government prioritising taking care of the interests of the masses.
In the interest of not occupying too much space in your publication, I just dealt with the justice of the situation and not the actual figures which can be dealt with more adequately in another instalment. I conclude by saying this, APNU/AFC Government in its misconstrued beliefs of its messianic stature or more aptly described as manifest destiny will continue to operate as if they are “anointed” to do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want and no one dares question them. To do so, is to incur the wrath of the divine. I will not, by my silence, be a sponsor peddling untruths, misinformation and distortions. Not intimidated!