Former Prime Minister Hamilton Green has taken a stand against mounting criticisms that he did not deserve the annual $20 million former Prime Minister’s pension he has requested, saying that it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Green, a former Mayor of Georgetown and Prime Minister under the People’s National Congress (PNC) 1985-1992 regime, said that his claims and request for his pension was enshrined in the law.
He told reporters that the issue, which has already been condemned by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI), needed to be put into its correct perspective, since it has been misconceived.
“In every civilised country, there are provisions made for pension and special benefits for former Presidents and Prime Ministers, however styled. This is universal application and there is nothing unique about it.”
Green said prior to the 2011 legislation, Government, since independence, had provided pensions and benefits, sometimes informally to former Presidents and Prime Ministers.
He mentioned the provisions that were made to former President Arthur Chung, which included security, transportation and housing. He said the principles were accepted by the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration and so it was confusing that the now Opposition was trying to shoot down his request.
He said the problem started because when the then Government took the matter to Parliament, it only catered for pensions and benefits for former Presidents.
He had portions of that Bill read to members of the media. The Bill stated that “every person who has held the office of President and Prime Minister having held office on or after 16 December 1966 and 22 December 1965 respectively, and ceases after such date to be President or Prime Minister, shall be paid a pension under this act with effect from the date on which he ceases to be President or Prime Minister as the case may be and subject to subsection 2 shall continue to be paid during the lifetime of that person.”
Green said he had the Bill read because there were some “soothsayers” who claimed that the pension was a special provision for “someone named Hamilton Green”.
“I don’t think that what is happening now can be considered extravagant, or lavish or out of kilter with the rest of the world,” Green told the media.
The TIGI on Sunday contended that the Hamilton Green Pension Bill was vulgar and politically partisan, reeked of cronyism and lacked basis for justification.
The Bill, which was read for the first time on 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 $20,580,000, other benefits to the value of $3.1 million annually, including two vehicles provided for and maintained by the State and two first-class annual airfares
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 accrued from his period as Mayor of Georgetown.