A few months after the PPP came to power in the early 1990’s, Jagan, lamented what he perceived to be excessive and wages enjoyed by ministers, permanent secretaries, and other high-ranking public servants under the defeated Peoples National Congress (PNC) government.
Noting the “donkey-cart” stature of the economy at the time, the late president spoke in favor of, and ambitions to institute, a “lean and clean” government, where wages and benefits were a reflection of the country’s economic stature.
Since the PPP/C took office in 1992, and more recently, since the 2001 general and regional elections, several ministers, and even former president Bharat Jagdeo, have been accused, particularly by the opposition parties – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) – of living lavish lifestyles; having acquired what are seen as extravagant moveable and immoveable property.
More recently, the PPP/C was chastised after news surfaced that several government members have spent millions of tax-payers’ dollars for, in some cases, non-essential medical procedures. In one instant, Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai is reported to have accessed approximately $2 million for dental work.
During a press conference yesterday though, Rohee argued that current salaries and benefits enjoyed by ministers are in line with what Jagan envisaged.
“I believe it is…you always have to make a comparative analysis of what was before and what is now. Look at what ministers received before…and you look at what ministers received from 92, the cuts that were made in 92 and how the salaries increased, corresponding with the increases in the public service, you can deduce for yourselves whether it is indeed a reflection of what Dr. Jagan stood for,”Rohee told reporters explained.
He also noted that, as a minister under the Jagan government, his salary was impacted by the “downward adjustments in the salaries and emoluments of ministers,” and that “that position still remains in place.”
“I do not know of any minister, save and except for the AG (Anil Nandlall) which receives a different salary compared to all the other subject ministers…” He also said “being a minister with government since 1992 I haven’t seen any super salary increases…”
Asked if he believes the Guyanese people are happy with the wages, job opportunities and educations opportunities currently afforded them the GS said “nobody is ever happy with the amount of money they earn…everybody would like to have an improvement in their standard of living…always that is a work in progress. As the economy grows…people become much better off.”