By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Two former Presidents – Donald Ramotar and Bharrat Jagdeo – have sued the State for passing a Bill in the National Assembly, which caps their benefits.
The APNU+AFC administration had moved to Parliament to cap the benefits of former presidents at a fixed amount whereas those benefits were uncapped and amounted to millions annually.
Attorney General, Basil Williams made the revelation at a press conference on Monday, December 077 where he indicated that the lawsuit was filed on November 11.
In the lawsuit, the two former Presidents state that the new law would not affect them since their earnings had been accrued before the passage of the Bill.
“Both PPP/C former presidents Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar have caused applications to be filed in the High Court seeking in effect to receive the sums o money in benefits and other facilities,” said Williams.
The Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Bill 2015 was on Thursday, July 09 passed by the APNU+AFC Parliamentarians in the absence of the People’s Progressive Party Opposition.
The Bill slashes several benefits for Guyana’s former Presidents – Samuel Hinds, Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar.
The Bill limits expenses incurred for utilities such as telephone, water and electricity to $25,000 each month. It also states that “services of personal and household staff, including a gardener, provided that the total number of such staff shall not exceed three persons, including any member of the staff who may be on earned vacation or sick leave.”
Further, the Former Presidents are subject to a financial limit of $200,000 per annum to cover medical expenses; however the reimbursement is only given if the said medical treatment is not available at local public health institutions.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who presented the Bill to the National Assembly stated that “we have a situation where a former President is enjoying a tax free pension equivalent to 7/8 of the salary of a sitting President.”
He pointed out that although the United States has a better economy than Guyana, the pension pales in comparison to the pension and benefits to the Former Presidents of the US.
He noted too that the Former President of the USA is paid a taxable pension; while under the previous legislation, the pension was not taxable.