No such thing as First Lady’s pension – Dr. Gopaul

No such thing as First Lady’s pension – Dr. Gopaul

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Wednesday, 16 November 2011 02:59
Soouce - Guyana Chronicle

PERMANENT Secretary at the Office of the President, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, has deemed as a misconception statements made by Alliance for Change (AFC) Presidential Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan about ‘First lady Pension entitlement’.

Speaking to members of the media during an interview on Monday at the Office of the President, Dr. Gopaul rehashed the letter he sent to the editor of the Kaieteur News published on November 13 in response to an article titled Varshnie Singh entitled to ‘First Lady’s pension’.

“Mr. Ramjattan got it all wrong…it is not for a wife of a President or First Lady… had he read the Act, he would have seen that a widow’s pension is paid only to that widow on the death of her husband,” Dr. Gopaul said.

Dr. Gopaul also presented copies of the correspondence sent to Kaieteur News detailing the size of the pension given to former Presidents Arthur Chung, Desmond Hoyte and their widows, and Mrs. Janet Jagan.

Copies of the President Hoyte Pension Act 2009 which makes provision for enhanced pension to the widow of the late President from the date when the widow’s pension was first payable were also presented.

“Widow’s pension is payable, and it is calculated at 50 percent of the president’s pension,” Dr. Gopaul said.

The last pension paid to former President Chung was in June 2008. He received $1,085,427 and his widow received $542,714 up to August 2009. Up to November 2010, Mrs. Hoyte received $543,543.

Dr. Gopaul explained that other benefits and entitlements given to the former first ladies included driver, medical and utility expenses and duty free concessions.

He recalled that the President Hoyte Pension Act No. 8 of 2009 was passed with the full knowledge of the Opposition, who, he said, were cognizant of the sum paid to former presidents and that the constitution was amended to make pension benefits a right.

“There wasn’t any hue and cry then. I can’t understand why there is a hue and cry if another president demits office and will benefit from this Act,” Dr Gopaul said.

Reference was made to provisions in the old Pension Act under Chapter 27:11, where a Head of State got a pension that was 16 percent higher than the Chancellor of the Judiciary, and the new act where the salary of the Chancellor of the Judiciary would determine that of the President and the Attorney General.
The size of President Jagdeo’s pension has only recently been one of the high attention areas for the AFC.

Dr. Gopaul commented that the Opposition is seeking to create the impression that the Act was designed for President Jagdeo and not the holder of the position of President of Guyana.

“The Act was made applicable to all the former persons who held the position. President Hoyte, President Arthur Chung, and President Janet Jagan,” Dr Gopaul said.

Dr. Gopaul said that it is in bad taste to express concern over the benefits for someone who has given dedicated service to Guyana, and unacceptable for someone hoping to be president to act like a ‘boxer’ or ‘street fighter.’ (GINA)
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