PPP to Govt: Halt unlawful, discriminatory tactic of foisting Pensionable Scheme on Public Doctors

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-Says Govt’s actions will hemorrhage health sector 

Georgetown Public Hospital

The Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has issued a strongly worded statement calling on the incumbent Administration to halt its decision to ‘highhandedly’ place Doctors within the public sector unto the Pensionable Scheme.

According to the Party it stands in solidarity with the members of the medical profession who have, since news broke of government’s agenda, articulated their concerns and reservations about the issue at hand.

Moreover, the Party says that their  “Legal Affairs Committee will offer them legal representation should the Government proceed with this egregious, unlawful and unconstitutional course of action.”

See full statement below:

The members of the medical profession in the public sector have expressed great concern at the high-handedness of the Government in attempting to peremptorily and unlawfully place all public sector doctors on the pensionable scheme.

The PPP/C stands in solidarity with the doctors who, without any consultations and against their will, are being mandated to move from contract employment to the pensionable scheme.

These doctors will lose their benefits; gratuity; and allowances. Their years of service will be shortened, thereby decreasing their benefits under the pensionable scheme.

The doctors are also worried and outraged by the fact that their on-call allowances, Head of Department, Head of Section and overtime allowances will all now be taxed.

The PPP/C feels that these punitive measures leveled against a vital component of the health sector sends a clear message: that the Government does not value the tireless and dedicated efforts and sacrifices year round of hundreds of young and experienced doctors. The Government has clearly shown their disdain, disrespect and disregard for these medical professionals by these measures.

We note, that unless this approach by the Government is reconsidered, many of the doctors have threatened to leave the Public Sector and the country.

This will result in untold hemorrhage of vital skills from our health sector and tremendous brain drain from which our country has suffered so badly in the past. The millions of taxpayers’ dollars which have been invested to train these doctors will also go to waste.

Our information is that these doctors are all employed under valid and subsisting contracts of employment, which guarantee them benefits such as gratuity and tax free allowances.

Switching these doctors to the pensionable establishment in the face of these existing contracts will amount to a breach of the terms and conditions of these contracts, exposing the state to millions of dollars in liabilities for breach of contract.

Moreover, the contracts which these doctors signed, while they were studying under the Government scholarship programmes, guarantee them employment for five (5) years with the Government of Guyana, upon terms and conditions which include a gratuity and tax free allowances. To deny these doctors these facilities now would amount to a breach of that contract as well.

Additionally, both the scholarship contracts, as well as the contracts under which these doctors have been employed since they graduated, would create in favour of these doctors, a legitimate expectation that they would continue to be employed for a period of five (5) years by the Government of Guyana upon terms and conditions similar to that which they were promised; those are, which guarantee them gratuity and tax free allowances, etc.

Significantly, the nation is aware of this Government offering contracts of employment to hundreds of their friends, relatives and cronies in various governmental sectors without putting them on the pensionable establishment, but paying them the selfsame gratuity and allowances, which they are now refusing to pay to our doctors. This deferential in treatment amounts to discrimination against which every citizen is protected by virtue of Article 149 of the Constitution of Guyana, as a fundamental right and freedom. Therefore, the Government is violating the constitutional rights of our doctors and would be liable for this constitutional violation.

It is to be noted, that it is the PPP/C that highlighted this issue several months ago when it first publicly surfaced and we promised our doctors then, that our Legal Affairs Committee will offer them legal representation should the Government proceed with this egregious, unlawful and unconstitutional course of action. We reiterate that position now. We call upon the Government not to proceed with this promised course of action. If they persist, the PPP/C will collaborate with our doctors to do that which is necessary to have this decision reversed.

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