By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Alliance for Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan on Wednesday (December 11) responded directly for the first time to Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh’s claims that he (Ramjattan) has been making several outrageously inaccurate statements regarding the level of salary increase that can be paid to public servants as provided in the 2013 National Budget.
The Minister in the last of two statements on the matter said that Ramjattan’s statements clearly demonstrates that he is unfamiliar with the structure of the National Budget and has not been paying attention to answers provided in the National Assembly in relation to this matter.
However, Ramjattan maintains that there is some amount of deception surrounding the utilization of the $4.4B budgeted for the revision of wages and salaries in the 2013 Budget.
At the party’s press conference, the Party Leader said Dr. Signh’s credibility has become the identical ilk and maybe even worst of his predecessor Former Minister of Finance and President Bharrat Jagdeo.
“We all remembered when Jagdeo was Minister of Finance, with all the theatrics of an Academy award winning actor he said there were no monies to pay additional increases to Public Servants because all the monies had been used for similar reasons. However the Armstrong Inquiry investigated and found enough monies to pay more than was offered,” Ramjattan added.
He contends that it is the same ‘disingenuous strokes being played but by a different batsman’. The AFC Leader said his party maintains that the money is there for an increase of up to 10% minimum and 15% maximum.
“The country must come to understand that the deception continues.”
He called for a possible recurrence of the mass unrest that gripped the country in 1999.
The Ministry of Finance, on a point of clarification following Ramjattan claims that monies were budgeted for a higher increase had said the uses and purposes of the Revision of Wages and Salaries allocation in the National Budget are a matter of longstanding public record and boasted that it can account for every dime of the money spent.
In fact this is exactly what the AFC has called for. According the Ramjattan, through the National Assembly the Minister will be asked to provide numbers of how many news staffers the Public Service took on during the period the categories, salaries and why. Additionally, details in relations to the categories of promotions have also been asked for. The AFC Leaders said names of all these persons may also have to be made public.
“As a matter of policy, and of practical necessity, the National Budget only provides allocations to meet the cost of posts filled in budget agencies at the time the National Budget is finalized” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry further explained that should a budget agency promote or recruit new staff, increase salaries or otherwise adjust salaries during the course of a year, that budget agency must revise its budgeted allocation to meet its shortfall.
However, according to Ramjattan the Minister has only demonstrates how ‘scatter-brain’ the Minister is getting as what he said was scheming in the Ministry is unraveling.
Since the announcement the announcement of the five percent increase by government there has been protest by public servants in several pockets across the country. The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has also warned of mass industrial unrest if necessary.