Spending power crippled under APNU+AFC – Pres. Ali says PPP/C Govt focused on improving lives

President Dr Irfaan Ali

Making it clear that he is not in the business of scoring cheap political points, President Dr Irfaan Ali today addressed the criticisms being levelled against the 7% retroactive across-the-board salary increase his government has announced for all public servants.

The Head of State reminded that this salary increase cannot be viewed in isolation and must be compared with the living conditions of public servants and all Guyanese under the APNU+AFC Coalition from 2015 to the early parts of 2020.

He further contended that the situation must also be considered in the context of the different economies inherited by each government, whereby the APNU+AFC inherited an economy that was buoyant and the PPP/C got one that was in the midst of a pandemic and where most of the economic sectors were on the decline.

“I’m not in the business of misleading people,” President Ali said as he detailed the measures imposed under the APNU+AFC that resulted in the crippling of the spending power of the ordinary man, including public servants.

Reminding that one of the first actions of the APNU+AFC Administration was to give their Ministers a 50% salary increase, President Ali contended that the increases offered to public servants during that period had little value when the burdensome tax measures and other policies are taken into account.

He highlighted that many public servants, such as medical professionals, were driven out of the system after they were forced off of a contract employment and placed on the permanent establishment system. This, President Ali explained, deprived many persons of benefits they were receiving under the contract system, such as gratuity that was sometime equivalent to 22.5% of their earnings.

The Guyanese Head of State also reminded of the ban on the importation of vehicles no more than eight-years-old, making vehicle ownership practically inaccessible to the ordinary man. He noted too that homeownership was out of reach for the ordinary public servant after the APNU+AFC Government reduced by 50% the ceiling on mortgage interest relief.

“This amounted to hundreds of thousands of savings annually for many persons and this injustice was only corrected in the first months when the PPP/Civic returned to government,” President Ali contended.

He further reminded that a public servant whose children were attending private schools was penalised when the APNU+AFC introduced VAT on private educational services. For those who had children in the public education system, they were now burdened with taking monies out of their pockets to purchase school supplies after the APNU+AFC removed the school cash grants.

“Disposable income was reduced to rubble under APNU+AFC,” President Ali posited, reminding that public servants also had to bear the brunt of the tax increases and new taxes imposed under APNU+AFC including VAT on water, electricity, and medical supplies.

“So, it was a reversal in the capacity of the disposable income available to the public servant,” the Head of State explained.

He noted too that thousands of persons were placed on the breadline as a result of actions taken by the APNU+AFC Government.

Contrasting these situations with what has taken place under the first year of the new PPP/C Administration, President Ali asserted that Guyanese are now enjoying a better-quality life. President Ali pointed to the numerous job openings which have been created as a result of the policies put in place by his administration, the thousands of citizens benefitting from scholarships, and the billions in grants that have been distributed including the one-off grants, Covid relief grants, grants for frontline workers, among others.

“We are not only concentrating on salary, we’re concentrating on welfare too because welfare measures put back more money in the pockets of public servants and increase their disposable income,” President Ali said, explaining that the overall aim of this government is to improve citizens’ livelihoods.

The Guyanese Head of State said his government is committed to a “balanced approach” to the development and advancement of each citizen and he is urging the naysayers to be objective in their assessments.

In fact, the President has urged the trade unions who are critical of the 7% increase to “take off its political hat and put on the hat of reality” as he outlined the situation across the globe and how public servants in other countries have not benefitted from so many measures during the pandemic as Guyanese have.

It is against this backdrop that President Ali believes that Guyana has, perhaps, outdone most of the world when it comes to the welfare of its public servants and citizens during the pandemic.