GHRA slams gov’t over “shocking, obnoxious” Hamilton Green pension bill
… calls for it to be withdrawn
As outrage continues to mount over the proposed Hamilton Green Pension Bill 2016, which was tabled in the National Assembly, the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) said it is “utterly shocked” at the proposal.
The Bill, which will be read for the first time tomorrow (Monday), provides for Green to be paid a pension “based on the salary paid to the Prime Minister, as though he actually earned the said salary, taking into consideration his record of service as a legislator.”
It also provides for Green to receive all benefits provided for by the Former President (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2015. The value of these benefits are an annual pension of G$20,580,000, others benefits to the value of G$3.1 million annually, two vehicles provided and maintained by the State and two first-class annual airfares free transportation provided by the State.
Additionally, the former Prime Minister, who served in the position from 1985 to 1992, also qualifies for an ex-parliamentarian pension together with whatever benefits accrue from his period of Mayor of Georgetown.
In a statement on Saturday, the GHRA said the Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Act 2016 on the Order Paper is “utterly shocking” and called for the non-submission of what it called an “obnoxious” Bill.
In fact, the Rights Association went as far as to list several ground why the proposed Bill should not be submitted to Parliament, including the fact that there is no justification for the provisions of the Bill except for “cronyism”.
It was added too that the Bill is insulting to Guyanese taxpayers of this generation, who are prominently wage-earners, (rather than businesses or private professionals who mostly don’t pay taxes according to the GRA) to shoulder the burden of excessive pension for people who have so curtailed this generation’s life chances.
The GHRA also outlined that to date, Green, a former Mayor of Georgetown, never apologised for the humiliation, hardship and violence to which the Guyanese people were subjected during his harrowing term of office, adding that had Dr Jagan in 1992 not ‘drawn a veil’ over the past in the interests of social peace, Green would have found himself facing the courts.
Another ground proffered by the Rights Association is that the idea that former Presidents and senior politicians deserve to be treated as ‘Princes of the City’ with excessive pensions and benefits, reinforces rather than undermines the repugnant notion that the purpose of politics is to enrich politicians.
The GHRA statement went on to say too that a personalised Bill to reward Green for a lifetime of politics marked by incompetence and divisiveness is provocative in the context of the current Administration’s anti-corruption campaign. It also noted that the Guyanese Parliament is still to distinguish itself for the quality of its contribution to public life; while adding that if the Bill under discussion is entertained; its reputation would be further eroded by the ridicule it would justly attract.
Moreover, the GHRA pointed out in the release that since Green’s entire political career reflects the attributes that have kept Guyana ethnically polarized and, for this reason, securely anchored at the bottom of all Caribbean indicators of social and economic progress in the modern era.
“As a young and ruthless politician in the early 1960s, his name figured prominently in the violence from which this society has still to recover. During the 1970s and 1980s he was a leading Government figure in the political repression reflected by Guyana heading the list of countries with most refugee applications to Canada and mass exodus of Guyanese of all backgrounds to any other country they could find respite.
Those years saw bizarre hardships imposed on the Guyanese people including being criminalised for possession of onions and garlic, blocks-long queues around gas stations due to gasoline shortages and outbreaks of beri-beri,” the statement from the commission details.
Moreover, it was pointed out that during the last two decades, Green, as Mayor of Georgetown, had presided over its physical decay. Despite a career marked by incompetence and divisiveness, Hamilton Green, now well over 80 years of age, was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), the release added.
“Thanks to the legacy of economic and social turmoil for which he and other leaders were responsible it is ironic that Guyanese of the same age group as Hamilton Green are now condemned to live on old-age pensions of G$17,000, while he complains at having to eke out a living on his pension of G$100,000 plus his benefits from being Mayor,” the rights body noted.
This bill has raised many eyebrows, with many denouncing the fact that the former Prime Minister, under the People’s National Congress Demond Hoyte rule, name was included in on the Bill. In fact, current Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said on Friday that singling out Green for a legislative package that statutes pension and other benefits of a former Prime Minister might not have been the best course of action since the package should have been tailored to suit all former Prime Ministers of Guyana.