I refer to the letter by Prime Minister Samuel A.A. Hinds, O.E, captioned “Prime Minister clarifies continued distortions of Presidential Pension”.
My first disappointment is how easily, a man who only a few days ago, been the recipient of this country’s Highest National Honour, could utter such a Preponderantly Preposterous Prevarication, when he states “That the computation of pension of Presidents and Members of Parliament, is the same as that established in the Laws of Guyana even before Mr. Jagdeo was elected as President” no one argues this but he continues, “Not one of the benefits and allowances given to President Jagdeo (his words) is new – they were all available to former Presidents” clever and highly deceptive “were all available”
The new benefits passed per Bill No: 12/2009 in the National Assembly and assented by President Jagdeo on May 28, 2009 state as follows:
a. Payment in respect of the expenses incurred in the provision and use of water, electricity and telephone services at the place of residence in Guyana;
b. Services of personal and household staff including an attendant and a gardener;
c. Services of clerical and technical staff, if requested;
d. Free medical attendance and medical treatment or reimbursement of medical expenses incurred by him for the medical attendance or treatment of himself and the dependant members of his family;
e. Full-time personal security and services of the Presidential Guard Service at the place of residence;
f. The provision of motor vehicles owned and maintained by the State;
g. Toll free road transportation in Guyana.
h. An annual vacation allowance equivalent to the cost of two first class return airfares provided on the same basis as that granted to serving members of the Judiciary;
i. A tax exemption status identical to that enjoyed by a serving President plus a monthly pension of millions.
Add the pension which is US$180,000 annually, more than what the US president will get on leaving office, Guyana’s population 772,298 (¾ million), US population 307,212,123. I challenge Mr. Hinds and the PPP to stop this foolishness about “available” and tell us what in fact was made available to former Presidents. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
What is painful and part of a trickery is this; Jagdeo is a young single person – the Bill does not propose a condition that if for example the Ex President is gainfully employed then certain of the provisions will not apply.
I cannot speak for Mrs. Janet Jagan, but certainly Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte when he ceased being President received no such benefits – one easy example, the new benefits says at (f) provision of motor vehicles (note the plural) with no limit. Mr. Hoyte had to make do with a used motor vehicle made available by the Party (PNC/R) – After 1992 he had none of the other lavish facilities.
This is not the first time Mr. Hinds has found himself being an absolute stranger to the truth. I recall when traffic lights were commissioned outside of the Bank of Guyana, the Prime Minister reading from a prepared script, said that before 1992 there were no working traffic lights in Guyana. I had cause to correct him publicly.
This apart, his letter is clearly self-serving and perhaps the next portion of my letter may so qualify, but here I plead on the altar of fairness, tradition and justice. A much wider principle is involved, his letter refers to MPs. The post of Prime Minister is the next highest official in the national political arena in Guyana, how is it therefore that in Parliament when this Bill was being considered, no one thought of Pension benefits for former Prime Ministers and even Ministers.
Prime Minister Hinds also functioned as President and therefore would benefit from this massive burden on taxpayers. If my assumption is flawed then we expect a prompt truthful response from our latest holder of the Order of Excellence.
Mr. Hinds must tell us what is the pension of the only surviving former Prime Minister and should he care to comment or explain the massive difference, extent to what he as Prime Minister received to justify the statement that the procedure for the compensation is the same etc?
Beyond this he belabours the fact that before the Bill, assistance was a matter of discretion. He was careful to mention names, related to medical/health. I ask him before he replies to my letter to speak with both the President and PPP Presidential Candidate about a Medical/Health issue brought to their attention, by me, but nothing happened – different strokes for different folks.
A good government has a duty beyond what Mr. Hinds referred to as discretion to come to the assistance of citizens with Medical/Health Challenges – particularly those who have given years of yeoman national service.
But I ask where in the Bill are provision for the cases mentioned in his letter, Winston Murray, Robert Corbin, Everall Franklin and Sheila Holder he must suffer from a lapse of memory since he forgot to mention their own Geoffrey Da Silva, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, and others.
Where in this Bill is provided relief as his letter seems to suggest, the Bill is clear for former Presidents, no one else.
But this allows me to expose a serious defect in the Administration and Dr. Jagdeo, whichever side of the political divide we are the experience, is that LFS Burnham and Dr Cheddi Jagan kept their word – not so with this President.
I need remind Prime Minister Hinds of his last paragraph “Many who advocated that Presidents and surviving spouses should be able to live comfortably, holding their heads up high, now find it convenient to attack what they advocated. Be warned, they mean not what they say”! – Noble words but not deeds.
Is he aware of the “hassle” both Mrs. Viola Burnham and Mrs. Joyce Hoyte suffered at the hands of this government?
I can only assume that the Prime Minister as is not unusual may have been kept in the dark. I await his response to the above not by using evasive language, but facts, figures and reasoning, for example in dollars how much will be Mr. Jagdeo’s pension based on Mr. Hinds asseverations?
Surely in every democratic country this is public knowledge.
Hamilton Green, J.P.,
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