Guyana’s public servants slated to receive a 10 per cent salary increase in October, are in fact being paid a lot more than many persons who live in other developing countries, and while increases may not be considered sufficient, a liveable wage is really dependent on how a person chooses to live.
This was the position adumbrated by Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, who on Friday engaged members of the local media corps to give the Alliance For Change’s (AFC’s) position on issues of national importance.
He was at the time being grilled about the Government’s final offer and its impact on the economy, in light of the significant reduction in the spending power and capacity of local businesses and citizens.
Asked about the final offer by Government to public servants and the impact it will have on their spending power and its inherent impact on the economy at large, Minister Gaskin said, “I think a 10 per cent increase certainly does increase spending power, its 10 per cent more money.”
Pressed on whether he believed that Government’s final offer to public servants was sufficient, Minister Gaskin responded saying, “sufficient is a difficult word.”
He sought to explain saying, “Profits for business are never sufficient, you know, that is the nature of business.”
According to Gaskin, “Businesses always need bigger and bigger profits and I assume that human nature is no different, we want bigger and bigger salaries every year if we can’t get it.”
As such, Minister Gaskin posited that no wage increase would ever be sufficient, “it has to do more with what can be afforded.”
The Minister was at this point asked if the Government’s final offer represented a ‘liveable wage’ to which he responded saying, “it depends on how we want to live.”
According to the Minster, “In many countries, compared to a lot of countries, Guyanese earn considerably more than in a lot of developing countries, that doesn’t mean that it’s sufficient.”
He suggested, “A lot of things are relative; we are not a rich country as yet.”
Minister Gaskin used the opportunity to remind of Guyana’s vast endowment of natural resources/wealth, and said it is imperative that Government finds a way to ensure that wealth is spread across the board and that equal opportunities are created.”
Finance Minister Winston Jordan recently confirmed that the directive has been made to make the retroactive payments from next month.
This will mean public servants will on their October pay-cheques, be receiving their increases for that month, in addition to the bulk accumulated amount retroactive to January 2016.
The decision to go ahead and make the payments comes despite the fact that the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has rejected Government’s final offer of 10 per cent and has called for a return to the bargaining table.