By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – On the heels of widespread criticism over the decision by two former Presidents to take the APNU+AFC administration to court over amendments to the Former Presidents Benefits and Facilities Bill, one President is defending the court action.
Former President Donald Ramotar and his predecessor Bharrat Jagdeo had filed a court action claiming that “A Declaration that the Former Presidents (Benefits and other Facilities) Act No. 3 of 2015 does not retrospectively affect benefits which accrued to them under the Former President (Benefits and other Facilities) Act of 2009.”
Effectively this court action is seeking uncap the benefits of the two Former Presidents which was capped with the amendments to the Bill. Ramotar during a recent interview with iNews said that the Government acted unconstitutionally when it moved to have the Bill amended via the National Assembly shortly after assuming office.
The ex-President was adamant that the lawsuit is not for additional benefits.
“We are suing the State for what we are constitutionally entitled to – things that Desmond Hoyte and previous presidents had enjoyed before. It’s not that we are suing for any additional benefits. We just feel that the Government should respect our constitution and what our benefits are,” said Ramotar.
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, Jagdeo and Ramotar – Guyana’s only living former Heads of State.
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.