OPPOSITION leaders continue to foster their divisive, non-factual rhetoric against the President Dr Irfaan Ali, Vice-President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, ministers and other senior functionaries of the current government in their efforts to discredit them and derail their administrative programmes.
One of their most deceptive allegations relates to increases in salaries of the Presidents, ministers and public servants over the years 1998 to 2014.
An impartial observation would reveal the following: that if it is true that the salary increases given by the PPP/C to its senior government functionaries during its previous tenure in office was “unconscionable and disgraceful,” according to a former senior coalition minister, which they continue to peddle until today in their continuous attempts to misinform the nation, then the PNC-led government and former office-bearers like Hamilton Green, who has now positioned himself as an arbiter of fairness and holds himself out as the epitome of decency, should have refused the increases in salary in 2015 and thereafter.
This begs the question of what adjectives will adequately describe the huge salary increases that the APNU+AFC government gave themselves one month after being in office – indecent, reckless, and even deceptive; especially when this was disclosed by the media, denied by government spokespersons and subsequently discovered to be secretly done and gazetted.
This matter was debated in the Parliament with then Opposition PPP/C calling for an annulment of the order granting the increases to the President, Prime Minister, Vice Presidents, Ministers and Junior Ministers, approximately 28 in number. This unpalatable situation festered and haunted the coalition administration, with even their members and supporters crying out against this betrayal of trust.
The facts debunk what is being misconstrued and alleged to deceive a population now enjoying the benefits of democratic norms and a caring government.
In 1999 and 2000, the Armstrong tribunal recommendations were adopted by the PPP/C administration and public servants received increases of 31.06 per cent and 26.66 per cent respectively. Former Minister Winston Jordan’s enforced admission in Parliament disclosed that the Jagdeo government did not bureaucratically grab the opportunity to increase their salaries in tandem with that given to public servants. In essence, neither the President nor the ministers in the Jagdeo government were provided with similar increases enjoyed by public servants for that year. In the same answer, Jordan revealed that on no less than three occasions when public servants received annual salary increases and bonuses, then President Jagdeo nor his ministers gave themselves any salary increases whatsoever.
Jordan was constrained to admit that former President Jagdeo’s salary was indexed in 2006 to that of the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the Attorney General. The ministers’ salaries were indexed to that of permanent secretaries, although the records would show that the salary of some permanent secretaries; i.e., Office of the President and Minister of Finance, were far in excess of the remuneration received by PPP/C Cabinet ministers.
The clear case in point is that the PPP/C took office in 1992 and it was not until 14 years later, after that government had reduced the crippling debt burden it had inherited and developed Guyana; repaired infrastructure; achieved debt relief; stabilised the economy; fixed health and education services; improved disposable income of the ordinary man; expanded the middle class; made significant investments in the development of the rural and hinterland communities; implemented policies for the revitalisation of the private sector; making Guyana attractive for investment and the overall improvement in the standard of living of all Guyanese, before correcting what can be considered an anomaly.
By that time the budget recurrent expenditure reflected a commitment to pro-poor expenditure to almost 60 per cent.
It is important to note that there was no secrecy in relation to the PPP/C’s salary increases. This was gazetted, publicly known and not handled in an underhand and devious manner. The people saw a government prioritising taking care of the interests of the masses.
In light of the foregoing, and the expose’s being highlighted of the massive and incredible instances and levels of corruption by those elected to serve the people during the last five years, but who instead served themselves to the nation’s bounties; as well as the failure of numerous CoIs that failed to establish any wrongdoing by PPP/C officials, it is unfortunate to continue alleging any misconduct by the party currently in government — now or previously. All the allegations were proven by their own CoIs to be without merit.