Pay hike eruptions mean new gov’t honeymoon over – Ramkarran

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Ralph Ramkarran.
Ralph Ramkarran.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran says that the public outcry over the Government’s decision to increase the salaries of Ministers and Parliamentarians is a sure sign that the APNU+AFC’s honeymoon is over.

Read Ramkarran’s full Conversation Tree blog below:

Neither pace nor spin could contain the eruption over the salary increases by ministers of the government, to themselves. The usually mild mannered Minister of State, Joe Harmon, tried pace. “I have no apologies to make.” The technically adept Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, tried spin – “I maintain that these changes were necessary.” These efforts and others (the AG said the increases were ‘transparent’ and Minister Trotman said ‘trust us’) have failed to ease the political controversy, which has continued with unabated ferocity for two weeks. Back to back editorials in Stabroek News and Red Thread’s ‘fat cat politrickian’ cartoon, advertising a picketing demonstration on October 14, have underlined public dismay at the substantial salary increases.  If there was any doubt about it before, the honeymoon for the APNU+AFC Government is surely now over.

Between 1957 and 1964, the totality of salary and benefits for a minister was $840.00 (then about US$420) per month with $120.00 as a travel allowance and a driver. In order to attract Shridath Ramphal, who had served as Deputy Attorney General of the West Indian Federation and was then in private practice in Jamaica, the PNC-UF coalition government in 1964 offered him a salary of $4,000.00 tax free as Attorney General. The salaries of ministers remained the same.

Thus commenced a fifty-year anomaly with the Attorney General earning one million plus, tax free, and everybody else, including the President, earning far less at the end of 2006. In his second term, President Jagdeo increased his own salary above the Attorney General but did nothing to reduce the gargantuan disparity between the President and Attorney General on the one hand and ministers of government on the other, being even greater when taxes, which the President and Attorney General do not pay, are deducted from ministers’ salaries. In increasing his own salary, the President no doubt had his eyes on his pension, which is calculated on the highest salary. Even though under the PPP ministers’ salaries were increased in about 1994 and substantially so from 2001, by 2011 President Jagdeo and the Attorney General were taking home about five times as much as a minister. Of course, no minister dared to complain.

There had been numerous occasions since 1973, when Ramphal left to take up the post of Secretary General of the Commonwealth, for the anomaly in salaries between the Attorney General and ministers to be resolved. But nothing was done. In fact, the salaries of judges, the Chancellor and the Chief Justice climbed far above those of ministers, no doubt using the Attorney General’s salary as the template.

This situation where the President and Attorney General take home about five times that of a Minister and where judges take home thrice and more as much as ministers, faced the APNU+AFC Government when it entered office. No one denies that some rectification was needed. But how could the many experienced politicians in the Government not have known that the collective national senses would revolt against the Cabinet awarding itself any increases at all, much less fifty percent in most cases, with public servants and seniors having received less than promised on account of shortage of resources and with electricity and water subsidies being removed from seniors? How could the Government not know that fixing your own salaries from the public purse, which is taxpayers’ moneys held in trust, is an abuse of that trust and of the electorate’s trust? How could the Cabinet not understand that this is a blatant case of a conflict of interest, as severe as any that can be imagined?

The Government had a golden opportunity to begin the move away from the arrogance and the discredited practices of the past. Repeated suggestions are in the public domain, articulated not long ago by Henry Jeffrey, for the establishment of a statutory structure comprising various sectors of the society to periodically review salaries of government ministers as exists in many countries, including neighbouring ones. Even if this were not possible within the time frame that the Government had in mind, an ad hoc, independent, committee was possible.

The deleterious consequences of this ill-advised act of self-indulgence, bereft of sensitivity, violative of principle, devoid of support except from its beneficiaries, will continue to seep into the national consciousness and will eventually coagulate around negative perceptions, usually expressed in the dismissive – ‘they’re all the same.’ The short-sighted manner, the deceptive process and the defiant tones which accompanied the decision, will colour the outlook by which the Administration is viewed, including by its friends and well-wishers.

If the Government wants to recover some semblance of rectitude it may wish to consider the establishment of a permanent, statutory, structure, to which reference has been made above, and publicly commit to asking the body to review the recent increases and decide whether they are compatible with normally accepted principles and the disparities that existed immediately before the increases. Such a concession, a variation of the suggestion made by Christopher Ram, would go a far way in removing public disquiet over the matter, which disquiet would remain, even when the matter is overtaken by other events.

18 COMMENTS

  1. just to clarify when i said ” no rice farmer or their family will vote for them” i was referring to the APNU/AFC Government.

  2. I am sure in due course, everyone will enjoy a considerable increase in salary. The government thought by giving everyone an increase, they would have been satisfied but Guyanese being Guyanese, they are never happy. I am sure this will all blow over and the government will be in everyone’s good books when life starts to get a bit easier.

  3. Firstly Guyanese didnt know a pay hike was there , they secretly passed it over, secondly almost all the major audits are completed and all of them failed to find the massive corruption that the APNU/AFC said existed so now they have to threaten and try to frighten the PPP Members, thirdly an election tomorrow will bring back the PPP in power because i can tell you this no rice farmer or their family will vote for them and there is nothing the ABC countries can do either, because history has shown every thing the united states put its hand in has turned from bad to worst as seen in our economy and they cry of the business sector.and finally the APNU/AFC government has already become corrupt, they sold our country to the US for oil.

  4. I am positive the current regime is very cognizant of the fact that ‘cat eat dem dinner” if there is any legitimate poll to determine their popularity… or worst yet if there is local government elections which evidently will be postponed again and again for obvious reasons. The nature and history of major players comprising this regime easily convinces us that any other poll will be massively rigged. We already have the May 11th fiasco and they were given a lifeline by the premature authentication of the polls results by a few representatives of the ABC countries which has now invoked all manner of conspiracy theories. No resolution will be forthcoming about reviewing the actual compromised polling boxes now that we have more powerful voice in GT.

    Credit to the working people more so the black section that they have once again come out and stated their case against a government irrespective of the dominance of the ethnic composition of that government. It was done against the PNC under both Presidents Burnham and Hoyte. Fellas like Mr Lincoln Lewis needs to be complimented for leading this cause. The jump and grab salary methodology the current regime employed has aggravated the perception already etched in our collective national psyche irrespective of race or class.

    Mr Ramkaran is absolutely correct on this one. He however diminishes his otherwise excellent piece by taking a dig then a swipe at President Jagdeo.
    He should cut the foolishness out if he desires to play the role of ‘opinion maker’.

  5. Ramkarran you should not be the only complaining about the PNC salary increase by force! You help to install them as well out of greed. Since the PNC regime has took office, they have done nothing but kill the economy, kill tourism (Flights from Toronto to Guyana used to be $750 under PPP, now is it $1200 under APNU), Sky Rocket crime rate, and look into ways to Jail/Get rid of Bharat and ministers before next election rolls around. These people are power and money greed….they have no interest in developing the country. They are working desperately to Jail Bharat to further rig elections….exactly what the PNC did under Burhnam/Hoyte/Green days….

  6. Thanks for providing the background to the pay hike, Mr. Ramkarran. The APNU-AFC Government should have provided the findings of the Report to the public and have a discussion on the issue. The good thing is that it is in the public domain unlike the previous Government when a lot being told now from the Financial Audits into their shady transactions as a result of the change in Government. It is not in the dark to come out…and that remains the big difference so an election tomorrow will not bring back the PPP. Yes Guyanese are mad about the increase but they are not mad to the point where they would accept corruption and nepotism over an increase for a few.

  7. Which side of your mouth you are now speaking Emile? You should continue to support this Gang of self-serving politicians (you always have) who were catapulted into office with the help of the ABC countries and the discredited SURUJBULLY by way of RIGGED elections.

  8. They should have a no confidence vote on this matter and have election next may 11th 2016 honey is no longer there and the moon is far far away. bring back the ppp in power and have a robust economy.

  9. The coalition may have won this battle, but will it win the war, which is the support of voters it needs to retain power? Even if the coalition pays public servants 20% hikes next year, everyone will remember this controversial pay hike as a sign the coalition is not the vehicle of change longed for after years of Jagdeoism.

  10. Ok, lets assume Big Ministers and the rest of small Minister may or may not thief and they deserve the raise. Now will the President, Nagamootoo and Mr Harmon will also thief and should take a raise?

  11. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for Guyanese under this Defacto Granger Government. Yes I agree the honeymoon is indeed over however if unity is to prevail in this land then now is the time for all races to come to together and condone this despicable act. A 50% pay hike after just 5 months in office is simply unacceptable.

  12. Pay hike eruptions mean new gov’t honeymoon over – Ramkarran
    Ramkarran do you still want to join PNC because you failed to get the attention and power you so seek in PPP?

    Funny thing how Ralph Mouth Ramkarran could talk about any thing and everything under the sun but never once called for vote recount.

  13. The PNC/R/ AFC GOVT. HONEYMOON IS OVER IT IS TIME FOR A DIVORCE MR RAMKARRAN IS RIGHT HONEY IS NO LONGER THERE, AND THE MOON IS DISTANCE AWAY. SO LET GET A NO CONFIDENCE VOTE ON THIS PNC/AFC GOVT THE SUPER FAT CAT’S DAYS ARE OVER. LET REGION 10 & 4
    TAKE THE STREET AND ASKED THEM THE GOVT TO STEP DOWN..AND CALL NEW ECECTION ON MAY 11TH 2015. THEY ALERADY FULL THEIR POCKET. THE PM MOSES ROTTEN SIMATOO IS HISTORY AND RUM JATT COCKIED ARE ALL BETRAYING THE INDIAN PEOPLE. LET THE ABC COUNTRIES TELL THEY TO STEP DOWN. THEY CANUN A CAKE SHOP HOW WILL THEY RUN A COUNTRY..THEY DID NOT FOLLOW WHAT THEY PREACH ON THE CAMPAIN TRAIL.. WE WANT NEW ELECTION NOW.

  14. Wisdom which is sorely lackìng in the Coalition Government.Probably 95+% of the Guyanese people would agree with Mister R Ramkarran’s words, perhaps this Government should too, and act to correct their greatest blunder to date.

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