by Zena Henry
The main opposition in its severe critique of the government’s decision to increase Vice Presidents and ministers’ salaries says fatter pay packets are not needed to maintain integrity.
The government increases will also benefit PPP Members of Parliament since they too will get more money. Given the harsh criticisms, it was asked whether the party would refuse the increases, but People’s Progressive Party General Secretary Clement Rohee said, “We haven’t had a discussion on that yet.”
He was Monday July 3defending what was insinuated as the “meager” pay the former PPP ministers accepted and enjoyed while in government.
Walking with his pay slip to the press conference, Rohee said that under the PPP, ministers were paid $579,000 monthly and he for one was satisfied with it. He said it is “inconceivable” that the government should significantly increase their minister’s salaries while, “the nation gets bones.”
It was confirmed by Finance Minister Winston Jordan that increased pay for ministers are coming. He explained to Demerara Waves on Sunday July 2 that the small salaries that ministers putting in for13/14 hour days, are getting cannot cut it.
He said that the government and its officials do not intend to pay themselves outside of what the State gives them before, insinuating that the former government- tainted with corruption allegations -hid behind their small pay while drawing State finances and assets illegally and unconventionally.
It was pointed out that some Permanent Secretaries’ salaries; one minister confirmed, was higher than his, while some contract workers and public servants salaries doubled and tripled that of the ministers.
GPL’s CEO, Bharrat Dindyal, Gail Teixeira, then presidential advisor and GRA’s Khursid Sattaur were examples.
But Rohee said those sums can be possible via contract gratuity or fixed pensionable establishment. “Depending on how long you worked the amount of years and given the increases in salary over time, it is quite possible that a public servant who would have worked for years in the public service under fixed pensionable establishment could have reached that amount.” He said that in some cases those workers can make more than the stated amount.
Rohee said “Everything has to do with character. You don’t need a salary to be decent and honest, you need a salary to live yes, but if you want to live a decent and honest life you could do so without putting your fingers in the cookie jar.”
However when questions about material advances of former ministers with a half a million dollar salary surfaced, Rohee said for him, his Pradoville property was purchased through the bank.
Rohee denied however that the former administration was proposing increases in their 2015 budget and demanded that such evidence be brought forth to make the claims.
“I am not aware of anything like that…,” “I insist that you bring the evidence if you have it…” go bring the evidence which shows that there was something in the pipeline that the PPP was prepared to increase the salaries of ministers.”