The non payment of Adam Harris and Juliet Holder Allen is a clear reflection of the vindictiveness that the Jagdeo administration has been perpetuating since it took office in 1992.
This is the strong view of leader of the People’s National Congress, Robert Corbin, on the issue of Kaieteur News Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris, who has been waiting for his pension and gratuity more than 16 years after his forced retirement from his position of Editor-in-Chief at the Guyana Chronicle in 1992.
“The PNC have over the years been exposing this spitefulness by the government but all along we were a voice in the wilderness… I am glad that other stakeholders have finally recognized that the common enemy to development in Guyana is the PPP administration.”
Reiterating that cheating workers out of what is their due is normal for the present administration, Corbin recalled that a few years ago his party had lobbied against the non payment of officers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We got nowhere until we encouraged them to go to the court…Not until the court intervened that these people got some redress…I hope the government gives Mr. Harris what’s due him and not allow it to get that far.”
Meanwhile, another executive member of the party noted that when the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) took office in 1992, it divided the country into PPP and PNC and it did not honour its obligations to persons who were deemed as affiliates of PNC.
The official adamantly posited that Harris along with the many others who have been deprived of what is rightfully theirs must be paid their benefits because they worked for the State.
Regarding Harris’s more than 16-year wait for his gratuity and pension, the PNC executive member said that it was a manifestation of the nature of the present Government.
On Tuesday last Leader of the Alliance for Change Raphael Trotman told this newspaper that his party supports Harris, Chief Magistrate (rtd) Juliet Holder-Allen and the many other Guyanese in their struggles to receive their benefits that are owed to them.
Trotman at the time had expressed surprise at the fact that Harris has been waiting for 16 years for what is due to him, adding that persons should not be made to beg for their benefits owed to them for their services that have been rendered to the country.
He added that he was also heartened by, and supports the call by General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Donald Ramotar, who said that Harris should be paid what is due to him.
According to Trotman, there is no way in a proper working democratic society that persons should have to wait 16 years to receive what is rightfully theirs.
Speaking with this newspaper on Monday, Ramotar, in an invited comment, said, “I believe that whatever money is due to him he should get…from the point of view of principle.”
When asked if the 16-year delay in paying Harris his pension and gratuity had anything to do with the fact that he may have been viewed as pro-PNC, Ramotar stressed that the PPP’s position has never been to victimise people for their views. He said that the party has struggled over the years for freedom of expression and justice to be meted out to each citizen, regardless of creed or political affiliation.
“Whatever the case, it has to be something other than political…PPP has no interest in denying anybody what is theirs.”
Harris is still awaiting the payment of his pension and other benefits that are due to him since his forced resignation as Editor-in-Chief of the Guyana Chronicle when the PPP/C came into power in 1992.
According to Harris, he had preferred to keep the issue out of the public domain, and to allow the democratic system to work, and work fairly; but recently, whilst editing an article concerning former Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen’s fight for her benefits, and learning that her matter was being expedited after she protested, “It awoke my senses…I was not prepared to beg, but this money was something that I had worked for, and I am forced to fight for it.”
“I don’t want to protest, but I don’t think that anyone should be made to beg for their entitlements.”
According to Harris, earlier this year, Dr Luncheon called him and informed him that the longstanding matter was being addressed.
Luncheon had arranged a meeting with the Chairman of the GNNL Board of Directors, Keith Burrowes, and had worked out the details of the GNNL aspect of the payment.
“The cheque sent to me a few months ago by GNNL subsequent to that meeting was an insult.”
The cheque was returned to GNNL.
The matter is now with the Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, who has requested that Harris provide testimonials to support his period of employment as a teacher. Harris began teaching in 1966.
Mr. Harris hopes that, this time around, there will be no more empty promises.
“Sixteen years is a long time to wait. I am long past the age of retirement. I am closer to my grave than at any time in my life.
“I hope that now that the matter approaches its seventeenth year, there will at last be some resolution.”
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