Excerpt from Greenidge letter to SN on March 30, 2015. I taught dey was going to change this shit.
What then is the basis for Mr Rohee’s claim that the current ministers enjoy the type of lifestyle the Jagans had in mind?
It is sad that a minister of government would seek to mislead the public so grievously. I invite Mr Rohee to identify the “downward adjustments” in PPP ministerial salaries and emoluments, when they took place and to say which Orders effected these downward adjustments.
Whereas prior to his election Dr Jagan in 1992 promised the Guyanese public that he would attract to government technicians and ministers who would work for “one dollar a month,” within two years of the PPP’s accession to office, he substantially increased ministerial salaries.
So, PPP ministers have always paid themselves higher salaries than existed prior to their assumption of office. The same applies to benefits. In 1992 as a Senior Minister, I earned around G$20,483 per month – US$164 (the G$ exchange rate to the US$ was 125:1). The Prime Minister (PM) earned $28,726/month and the emoluments of Deputy PMs fell somewhere between. Junior ministers earned approximately $15,000/month. It is these emoluments to which first, Dr Jagan and, now duplicitously, all PPP ministers and apologists, refer when they speak of PNC extravagance and squandermania!
In fact, the first significant increase in ministerial salaries after independence was made soon after Dr Jagan took office. In 1993 Dr Jagan approved a 10% increase which moved senior ministers to $25,235/month. The next year an additional 33% hike took them to $33,723. In 2006 a massive increase further moved the ministers to $347,644/month.
By 2014 the Minister of Finance was receiving $579,951, which is not a reduction from G$20,483; nor is the Attorney General’s salary of $1.6 million, which is 35 times the minimum wage. The emoluments of Dr Mohammed Shahabuddeen and Keith Massiah, professionals whose shoes he could not even touch on the basis of merit were less than G$78,100/month. Their pensions would now be less than $90,000. The emoluments of Mr Nandlall and his colleagues, including those like Mr Rohee without a professional or trade skill, is over $300,000/month.
Ministerial allowances were minimal prior to 1992. In 1991 a vacation allowance, equivalent to one month’s salary, was belatedly approved to bring ministers’ emoluments in line with those of public servants, who had all along received a Leave Passage Allowance. That allowance either had to be spent on a vacation-related expense or to be invested in housing – construction or a mortgage. Today, ministers receive $420,000 with, it appears, no conditions attached.
Pre-1992 no ministers received dental treatment at the expense of the state, save for the occasion when the OP organized for a visiting foreign dentist, Dr Walker, to check and treat government ministers. Overseas medical bills were not paid for by the Treasury or the Ministry of Health.
Today the PPP ministers’ vacation allowance at $420,000 is ten times the minimum wage.
There have been no downward adjustments under the PPP so what is Mr Rohee ranting about? Basic ministerial salaries and allowances have increased every year since the PPP came to office in 1992. Far from reductions there have been massive increases even as the government has refused to either negotiate public service salaries or to limit their ministerial adjustments to those they paid to public servants to which ministerial emoluments had been linked under the PNC.
Furthermore, the emoluments of the PM and President have been dramatically and indecently increased. In 2009 after the demise of the Jagans the President’s emoluments were dramatically increased by linking them to those of the Chancellor of the Judiciary. Not satisfied with this sleight of hand, the PPP Cabinet added ‘Other Benefits’ to the presidential pension authorized in the constitution.
Since the former President was already getting a pension closely indexed to the sitting President’s salary, these ‘Other Benefits’ leave us as the only country in the world where the former presidents will receive for the rest of their lives a package of benefits-with-pension close to or in excess of those of the actual and future presidents. Mr Ramotar refused to enact the legislation the APNU laid to prevent this.
Not only do Mr Ramotar and Jagdeo’s emoluments and post-presidency benefits bear no relationship to those of the Jagans and Mr Burnham, but for many years benefits were not provided to the widow of former President HD Hoyte, a fraction of those benefits Mr Jagdeo himself is receiving. Under Messrs Ramotar and Jagdeo payments due to the GT&T pensioners have been blocked. This is the ultimate irony because those pensioners, including some of our most technically skilled former public servants, are eligible for lump sums that are in the vicinity of one month’s salary or pension of each of these two politicians.
As is usual, therefore, Mr Rohee makes up what he does not know and believes that he is such a master of language and debate that he can hide his fabrications by confusing the public.
A recent letter writer to a local newspaper (KN) was kind enough to provide a chart showing that the basic salary of Guyana’s current President leaves him ranked No 11 in terms of global presidential salaries. The writer justifiably asked whether Guyana could afford this.
It needs to be said that, with two possible exceptions, every single PPP/C Minister dismissed and removed for whatever reason has been kept on the books at the expense of the taxpayer. All have been given sinecures as advisers to the President or diplomatic postings and have retained all their benefits such as official cars and chauffer allowance of over G$100,000/month.
Mr Rohee is also reported to have said that, “being a minister with government since 1992 I haven’t seen any super salary increases…”
The rest of us can see both increases and super salaries because we are looking at how they have increased and we also know what members of the rest of the society receive. We can also find out what their predecessors received.
Jonathan Swift in his ‘Polite Conversation’ (1738) and the 1713 ‘Works of Thomas Chalkley’ have been good enough to elaborate for those of us who are challenged by this olde english:
“There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.”
The press has a duty to ask all spokesmen, and especially ministers, hard questions. They should not be fobbed off with rubbish and untruths such as those offered by Mr Rohee.
Carl B Greenidge