By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Presidential Candidate of the APNU+AFC Coalition, Brigadier (rt) David Granger has shed some light on how his Party intends to increase public servants salaries by a minimum of 10 percent and reduce the toll of the Berbice River Bridge.
During his appearance on a special edition of Hard Talk aired on 90.1 Love FM, the Presidential Candidate revealed that the APNU+AFC is convinced that a substantial portion of government revenue are “systematically being kept out of the consolidated fund and are being paid directly into funds which are not under the control of the National Assembly.”
He pointed out NICIL, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Lotto funds as those that are not being put into the consolidated fund.
“These funds run into billions and the funds are so lucrative that the government could have embarked on the construction of a multi – million dollar hotel with funds that are really State funds, they are public funds so we intend to divert the funds from the non – legal sources back into the consolidated fund and we will ensure that the public servants are better paid,” Granger said.
He believes that in order to have an efficient government, there must be an efficient public service.
“The present administration has treated the public service generally, including the police forces in a very contemptuous manner. They wait until Christmas time and somebody comes along and gives them 3 or 4 or 5 percent. By that time, the cost of living has risen by 3 or 4 or 5 percent. Public servants are not foolish people, they realise that they are being kept at the same level that they were in previous years.”
When asked, he noted that perhaps 20 percent of the budget is being diverted
“We must bear in mind that a more efficient public service would lead to a more efficient revenue collection, would lead to more enforcement of fines by the police and so on at the courts and will lead generally to greater efficiency.”
Berbice Bridge Toll
Meanwhile, as it relates to the toll of the Berbice River Bridge, Granger made it clear that if elected into office post May 11, his government will pass legislation to ensure that the toll is reduced.
“Well, we are going to be in charge of the legislative branch of the government and we will pass laws to ensure that the tolls are not punitive. Right now we feel they are punitive. School children cannot get to school on time, traders, businessmen, ordinary commuters; it is punitive, it is a drag on development in West Coast Berbice and East Berbice Corentyne.”
This is in total contradiction to what one of his candidates, James Bond, had said during his recent appearance on the same radio programme.
Bond had indicated that if the private companies of the Berbice River Bridge are not in favour of reducing the tolls, then the APNU+AFC government will not go against their wishes.
When asked to respond, Granger said: “Well we will see what is the outcome of the negotiations with the private companies; I don’t want to anticipate that but I am very confident that the next government will be able to give the people of East Berbice more reasonable tolls than what exist at present.”
He committed that there will be consultations with the private companies before any move is made to reduce the bridge toll.