Shadow Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill on Friday sought to convince the parliamentary disciplinary committee that he did not mislead the National Assembly when he said the increase in ministerial and other salaries would cost the Treasury an almost GYD$1 billion dollars over government’s five-year term.
The committee decided to consider his calculations and then summon him, if necessary, to seek more answers.
Edghill said he had merely compared the increased salaries for the Prime Minister, Vice Presidents, ministers, Opposition Leader, Parliamentary Secretary, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chief Whip and other parliamentarians with what they had been paid under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration.
The former Junior Finance Minister in the PPPC’s term said he presented figures to the Privileges Committee showing that the salary hikes would cost the Treasury about GYD$16 million monthly, GYD$200 million annually and “almost” GYD$1 billion during the coalition’s five-year term. “I presented to the Committee. It’s the first time that I was given a chance to be heard and I stand by my statement and I assured the Honourable members of the Committee that everything I said was fair comment.
Nothing was said deliberately to misinform or intentionally mislead the House and everything that I said was based upon figures in Order number 16 of 2015 which was the only public document as it relates to actual figures existing in the public spaces,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
Specifically, Edghill said the new salaries would cost the Treasury GYD$964,486,521 or more than GYD$1,001,350,194 with the appointment of Junior Minister of Communities responsible for Housing, Valerie Patterson.
Edghill added that in contrast to the motion that was piloted by government parliamentarian, Charandass Persaud he never said GYD$18 million monthly
The PPPC parliamentarian recalled that the Parliament’s Office produced a document with figures it would have computed showing a yearly cost of GYD$83.9 million or a total of GYD$458,612,760 versus Finance Minister, Winston Jordan’s figure of GYD$338,452,540. It was clear that there were now three figures provided.
Edghill said after his presentation, the Privileges Committee asked for time to study his calculation. He was accompanied by his legal adviser, Attorney-at-Law, Bibi Safora Shadick.
He said had he been given time to explain himself during his motion on the salary increases, his appearance before the Privileges Committee would have been unnecessary. “My figures were not plucked out of the sky or manufactured. And had the tone of the debate been more civil, with less unnecessary interruptions and adequate time offered, greater details could have been given to the House and the avoidance of this unnecessary outcome and abuse of process,” he said in his statement that he later released to the media.
Edghill said similarly in that Committee, he was interrupted several times on Friday.
The Privileges Committee meeting was chaired by House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland. Others present were Priya Manickchand, Anil Nandlall, Clement Rohee, Adrian Anamyah, Khemraj Ramjattan, Basil Williams, Joseph Harmon, and Ronald Bulkan.
Charandass Persaud was absent.