by Derwayne Wills
Following government’s intention to grant a Prime Minister’s pension to former Prime Minister and former Georgetown Mayor, Hamilton Green; Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said government must show special contributions to the nation made by Green to validate a Parliamentary Bill granting him alone a Prime Minister’s pension.
Jagdeo, during a press conference at his party’s Freedom House headquarters, likened Green’s pension issue with his own pension debacle years ago that ended with a 2015 amendment of the Former Presidents Pension Act.
Jagdeo cited Green’s pension proposal as being “duplicitous” on the part of the coalition government that, while in Opposition, objected to the uncapped benefits he was slated to receive following his retirement in 2011.
“Isn’t this just a rape of the Treasury?” Jagdeo asked while challenging the specific nature of the proposed Bill for Green.
Jagdeo anticipates when the Bill is brought to the National Assembly, there will be a heavy debate on its merits. He said however he is not opposed to persons being given a fair pension once they have served the country.
Former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds is the only other surviving former Prime Minister in Guyana. Hinds’s pension, however, is a Former President’s pension since he served briefly as President following the death of President Cheddi Jagan.
When Parliament meets on November 21, Finance Minister Winston Jordan is expected to table the Bill to ensure that only Green, who served as Prime Minister from 1985 to 1992 would receive the pension, in addition to benefits and other facilities “to enable him to live in keeping with the high office he occupied.”
Demerara Waves Online News reported Green’s acknowledgement of the decision, who then said he was never made a parliamentarian in 1992 due to his “problems” with then People’s National Congress (PNC) Leader Desmond Hoyte.
The former Prime Minister pondered why the specific period was mentioned in the Bill and voiced disappointment that the Bill mentions his name because all future former Prime Ministers should benefit by law.
“I thought the Bill would have just said Prime Minister. I don’t know why the Bill should carry my name. The Bill shouldn’t carry my name. The Bill should say former Prime Ministers,” he said.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan is expected to table the Bill on November 21.