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Public sector bonus welcomed but Guyanese worse off- Jagdeo

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo welcomed Monday’s disclosure by government of a GYD$50,000 (approx US$235.00) one-off tax-free bonus but at the same time argued that Guyanese are worse off because of the scrapping of a number of benefits and that sugar workers were yet to be paid  their Annual Production Incentive (API).

“While some public servants will benefit from the $50,000 bonus, Guyanese have seen the removal of the $1.67B cash grant for all public school children, the removal of electricity and water subsidies for pensioners and the removal of other support measures – all aimed at improving the livelihoods of our people,” said Jagdeo, a former Finance Minister.

He said public servants in 2015 did not benefit from salary increases that were retroactive from January 1st of the year. Instead, Jagdeo said, the salary increases were retroactive from July 1st.  “As such, public servants, while receiving a $50,000 bonus, did not receive the full year’s benefit of the salary increase, as was done in previous years – leaving them worse off in a net sense,” he added.

The tax-free bonus would be paid to 30,700 public sector workers including nurses, teachers, members of the Disciplined Services and semi-autonomous agencies in December, 2015.

Jadgeo called the bonus to public servants earning below GYD$500,000 monthly a “welcomed disclosure” by government. “I am extremely happy that public servants will be benefiting from this bonus, particularly since they deserve it,” he said. But he added “of note, is that the measures of support announced by the Administration, when matched against other actions taken, leaves Guyanese worse off in a net sense.”

The former President (1999 to 2011) questioned where government found GYD$1.54 billion to pay public servants if government claimed that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration had left a bankrupt country.

Jagdeo also expressed disappointment that  the year is almost to an end and sugar workers have not been paid any wage increases or  an Annual Production Incentive (API) – despite the fact that Government has announced that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has surpassed its production target.

“This is the first time in several years that sugar workers have been treated in this manner,” he said.

The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) announced that it exceeded its production target for 2015 by over 300 tonnes as of Monday, December 14, 2015. With three estates still grinding, the corporation is likely to add a few more thousand tonnes to its total.

The second crop target was set at 146,300 tonnes and this morning the production figure was 146,583 tonnes. The year’s total was set at 227,443 tonnes and to date  227, 727 tonnes has been achieved. This would be the first time in 11 years that GuySuCo has achieved a second crop target.

Guysuco and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) are currently locked in the conciliation process on the issue of the API.