The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) on Saturday slammed government for moving to give former Hamilton Green a hefty pension for serving as Prime Minister from 1985 to 1992.
“The Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Act 2016 on the Order Paper is utterly shocking. His entire political career reflects the attributes that have kept Guyana ethnically polarized and, for this reason, securely anchored at the bottom of all Caribbean indicators of social and economic progress in the modern era,” the GHRA said in a statement.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Guyana’s political landscape had been marred by the killing and beating of opponents to the then People’s National Congress (PNC)- led administration. Newsprint for anti-government and independent newspapers were severely restricted, and people were arrested and prosecuted for being in possession of basic food items that had been either banned or restricted.
Following is a slightly edited version of the statement.
The Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Bill 2016, which will be read for the first time on Monday November 21, 2016, provides for Green to be paid a pension “based on the salary paid to the Prime Minister, as though he actually earned the said salary, taking into consideration his record of service as a legislator.” It also provides for Green to receive all benefits provided for by the Former President (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2015. The value of these benefits are an annual pension of G$20,580,000, others benefits to the value of G$3.1mn annually, two vehicles provided and maintained by the State and two first-class annual airfares free transportation provided by the State.
Former Prime Minister Green also qualifies for an ex-Parliamentarian pension together with whatever benefits accrue from his period of Mayor of Georgetown.
The Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Act 2016 on the Order Paper is utterly shocking. His entire political career reflects the attributes that have kept Guyana ethnically polarized and, for this reason, securely anchored at the bottom of all Caribbean indicators of social and economic progress in the modern era.
During the 1970s and 1980s he was a leading government figure in the political repression reflected by Guyana heading the list of countries with most refugee applications to Canada and mass exodus of Guyanese of all backgrounds to any other country they could find respite. Those years saw bizarre hardships imposed on the Guyanese people including being criminalized for possession of onions and garlic, blocks-long queues around gas stations due to gasoline shortages and outbreaks of beri-beri.
During the last two decades Mr. Green, as mayor of Georgetown, presided over its physical decay. Despite a career marked by incompetence and divisiveness, Hamilton Green, now well over 80 years of age, was appointed asChairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
Thanks to the legacy of economic and social turmoil for which he and other leaders were responsible it is ironic that Guyanese of the same age group as Hamilton Green are now condemned to live on old-age pensions of G$17,000. while he complains at having to eke out a living on his pension of G$100,000. plus his benefits from being Mayor.
This proposed Bill should not be submitted to Parliament on the following grounds.
Firstly, it is insulting to Guyanese tax payers of this generation, who are prominently wage-earners, (rather than businesses or private professionals who mostly don’t pay taxes according to the GRA) to shoulder the burden of excessive pension for people who have so curtailed this generation’s life chances.
Secondly, there is no justification for this Bill beyond cronyism.
Thirdly, to date Mr. Green, never apologized for the humiliation, hardship and violence to which the Guyanese people were subjected during his harrowing term of office. Had Dr. Jagan in 1992 not ‘drawn a veil’ over the past in the interests of social peace, Mr. Green might have found himself facing the courts.
Fourthly, the idea that former Presidents and senior politicians deserve to be treated as ‘Princes of the City’ with excessive pensions, and benefits reinforces rather than undermines the repugnant notion that the purpose of politics is to enrich politicians.
Fifthly, a personalized Bill to reward Mr. Green for a lifetime of politics marked by incompetence and divisiveness is provocative in the context of the current administration’s anti-corruption campaign.
Sixthly, The Guyanese Parliament is still to distinguished itself for the quality of its contribution to public life. If the Bill under discussion is entertained, its reputation would be further eroded by the ridicule it would justly attract.
The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is calling for the non-submission of this obnoxious Bill.