Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo on Friday said the draft law to facilitate a pension and benefits to former Prime Minister, Hamilton Green probably should not have named him but left open for all current and future ex-prime ministers.
“It may be an issue that we may want to re-look as to why it was the Hamilton Green pension bill and not former Prime Minister pension bill… If you want something to be seen as equitable, it has to have a broader rubric that allows it maybe to have it as a futuristic piece of legislation rather than simply trying to go back to correct an anomaly,” he said.
Green, who is the only surviving former Prime Minister, has expressed concern that the Bill to be tabled by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan next Monday in the House has named him specifically. Samuel Hinds receives a former President’s pension and other benefits having served as Head of State and Head of Government from March to December, 1997 when President Cheddi Jagan died.
Nagamootoo also announced that steps would soon be taken to ensure that all former parliamentarians and ministers receive pensions that are at current levels. “There is representation before Cabinet for adjustment to the pensions of those who survived since Independence in our National Assembly and who are still getting pension based on the salary at that time,” he said.
In apparent reference to Green’s association with the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led dictatorship that ended in 1992 with the first free and fair elections since 1964, the Prime Minister urged Guyanese to bury the hatchet. “This nation has to be able to put aside its own bitterness that has contaminated all of us and become part of our political culture, of hate and being judgmental and being angry when we deal with people who had held offices in this country,” Nagamootoo said. He added that “apart from all the political postures that we may assume about each other, he held the position of Prime Minister and therefore I believe this is a once for all piece of legislation because you couldn’t do it otherwise to allow him to enjoy the pension of a Prime Minister and that a Prime Minister ought to get.”
Nagamootoo said when the Bill is passed in favour of Hamilton Green, it would not be retroactive to 1985 or 1992 when Green was Prime Minister but from when it is approved by the House.