A group of rights activists on Thursday picketed the Ministry of the Presidency, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the controversial pay increase for government ministers.
“At a minimum, they need to back off from these increases until the tax people have finished their considerations, until the public service people have completed their considerations,” said said Executive Member of Red Thread, Karen De Souza .
The activists want government to await a review by a Tax Review Committee and the findings and recommendations by the Public Service Commission of Inquiry.
“They need to go back to the drawing board and come up with some kind of strategic plan for how public servants are going to be paid a livable wage before any increases for the politicians,” she told reporters.
De Souza assailed the government for their attitude towards the masses, suggesting that the David Granger-led administration appeared to mirror the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) when it was in office.
“Their behaviour is not separating them sufficiently from the previous one. We are very disappointed, we are very distressed at the moment,” said the official of the women and children’s rights organisation.
The mostly female picketers held a banner and several placards to express their disgust at the 50 percent hike and betrayal of a promise that public servants would have been given a 20 percent increase. The placards read “It is the ‘no quality’ put you deh! We deserve better! No more arraogant fat cat politicks,” “Tief or tek: All is money out poor people’s pocket. Shame! Shame! Shame!,” and “Critics are not your enemies! Criticism helps you do better.”
“It might have been an ambitious 20 percent but they did say it and they haven’t offered a satisfactory explanation as to why not,” said De Souza. “You cannot in the same breath say that the country is poor, the economy is in shambles, we can’t pay public servants on whose shoulders the administration of the country rests and then in the same breath you are raising your own salaries and all kinds of mixed messages about why,” she said.
De Souza dumped explanations by top elected government officials that there was need for parity between the executive and the judiciary and the pay-hike was aimed at discouraging them from engaging in corrupt practices. “It is not good enough! They are treating us as contemptuously as previous governments have treated us and it is not good enough and we are not going to accept it,” she said.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has said that he has no apology for the increase while Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman has appealed to Guyanese, who earn about GUY$55,000 to “trust us.”
the Prime Minister’s taxable salary of GUY$1.5 million has been increased by 10.7 percent while the GUY$579,000 salary for a junior minister has been increased by 12.5 percent and for senior ministers by 50 percent. Vice Presidents have gotten a 60 percent hike on the GUY$579,000. The Attorney General’s salary of GUY$1.6 million has been increased by five percent.