…as Ministers’ wage increases cost treasury $65M annually
Minance Minister Winston Jordan said it is unfair to compare the percentages in wage increases for public servants against the exorbitant amounts being enjoyed by senior Government Ministers.
He contended too that Government cannot afford to sustain a higher salary increase for the public sector workers but can manage to sustain the 50 per cent hike for ministers as well as in excess of $20 million annually for Hamilton Green as part of his pension package.
During his year end press conference on Monday, the Minister explained that public servants did not get a better salary because such a venture would be unsustainable: “Nothing can be paid unless you can find the means of paying it and find the means of sustaining it. That’s why I can pay you a $25,000 bonus this year because it’s one off and I don’t have to sustain it.”
After salary negotiations with the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) reached a deadlock, Government made an offer of a 10 per cent increase in salaries for public servants working earning below $99,000, and an offer of 1-6 per cent for other categories of workers. Asked to justify the meagre increases given to public servants against the astronomical increases given to Ministers shortly after assuming office, the Minister said the latter is more affordable.
He disclosed that it costs the Treasury some $65 million annually to sustain the ministerial increases which ranges from 4.7 per cent to 50 per cent whereas it costs in excess of $2 billion to pay the 1-10 per cent increase to public servants.
Cabinet Ministers are now receiving $10,439,124 annually, a 50 per cent increase.
Vice Presidents, other than the PM, are to be paid $11,135,064 per annum.
Junior Ministers will earn $8,346,492, an over 16 per cent increase from the annual salary of a Cabinet minister under the former administration which was earning $6,959,412 annually.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo will now receive $20,580,000 annually, an over $2M increase.
‘When Green goes, the Bill is dead’
Prompted to justify why Government will be forking out over $20 million annually for former Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green instead of giving public servants a better wage, Jordan insisted that Green deserves his pension for serving as Prime Minister for more than five years.
“It’s so unfair to carry that line of thinking and propaganda. Hamilton Green was a Prime Minister…,” the Finance Minister expressed.
The existing law stipulates that Prime Ministers will get a pension that is 7/8 of their highest annual salary upon retirement.
Jordan explained that the Hamilton Green Pension Bill was specifically drafted because 7/8 of his salary then would be majorly undervalued now. “The reason why it is named Hamilton Green is because when Hamilton Green goes, the bill is dead. Why? Because every Prime Minister from Nagamootoo going forward will get 7/8 of his salary so if Nagamootoo for some reason says he will demit office, he will get 7/8 of his salary which right now is $1.7M,” Jordan pellucidly explained.
The Hamilton Green Pension Bill, which was introduced to the National Assembly despite mounting criticisms from civil society and the political Opposition, proposes an annual pension of G$20,580,000, others benefits to the value of $3.1 million annually, two vehicles provided and maintained by the State, and two first-class annual airfares to any part of the world, with free transportation provided by the State. (Devina Samaroo: Guyana Times)