Govt could not afford to keep campaign promise to increase police salaries

Last Updated on Monday, 1 February 2016, 13:21 by Denis Chabrol

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan Monday said government could not keep its election promise to pay members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) higher salaries because the coffers could not afford it.

“It is not a campaign promise wasn’t kept! Yes, on the surface it wasn’t kept but it was not because of bad-mind or whatever sake we didn’t keep it. The fact is we just didn’t have the resources to do,” he said.

Speaking with reporters at his Main and Urquhart Streets office in May 11, 2015, he said that on assuming office government had to find GYD$12 billion to prevent the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) from collapsing, more than GYD$3 billion to pay rice farmers after Venezuela did not pay for rice and paddy supplied and also the financing of a foreign policy campaign to counter Venezuela’s aggression over the Essequibo Region.

In the run-up to the May 11, 2015 general elections, the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition had promised to GPF members more, in particular those in the hinterland to reduce the temptation to take bribes.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.

Despite government’s failure to pay GPF members higher salaries, he noted that government was able to “scrape together” a GYD$50,000 year-end bonus that was “more or less well-received.” A number of soldiers and police have expressed concern that they were not paid a tax-free one month salary that was introduced by the then People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration.

Jordan could not say how soon members of the police force would be paid increased salaries, saying that much depended on increased tax collections. “We are going to be making good on our promises to pay people more when we are able to gather our revenues in the sufficiency that is required to not only pay more but make sure it is sustainable,” he said.

The Finance Minister said being able to pay more without fueling inflation or increasing taxation was key.