Nov 15, 2008 News
The Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL) yesterday issued a statement indicating that it had paid Kaieteur News’ Editor-in- Chief Adam Harris the portion of his pension to December 2007, amounting to $375,136.
The statement claimed that it used a revised computation in preparing Harris’s cheque. Yesterday, Harris reiterated that the major issue at hand surrounded the share of his benefits owed by Government.
He, however, pointed out that had GNNL paid him his due back in January 1993, he would have been living a very comfortable life today.
He insists that to pay him that exact sum in 2008 without factoring in inflation over the years is an insult to him; and, as such, he returned the cheque to the GNNL earlier this year.
“In 1993, that sum of money could have bought a house and a piece of land. Today, $375,000 cannot even buy a proper motorcycle.”
GNNL stated that Harris received the cheque and cashed it.
But Harris is adamant that he did not conduct any such transaction, and should that be the case, he is prepared to write a cheque payable to the GNNL for the same amount and send it to the company.
In the statement, GNNL traced Harris’s link with the company.
“Mr. Adam Harris was employed by the Guyana National Newspapers Limited as a reporter on November 4, 1980. He was previously employed at the Ministry of Information since 1973. “On April 30, 1981, he was released from GNNL, presumably on the orders of the then Minister of Information, to join the “New Nation“.
“Mr. Harris rejoined GNNL in June 1988 as News Editor at a monthly salary of $5,000. “Through a process of accelerated promotions, he was appointed Editor-in-Chief (ag.) on February 17, 1990, and was confirmed in this position on July 1, 1990, in which position he worked until his retirement on January 31, 1993.
“It is apposite to note that Mr. Harris’s monthly salary in two and one half years, from July 1990 to January 31, 1993, moved from $7,618 to $61,613.”
Harris explained that the salary of every employee within the company at that time recorded significant jumps. Inflation was the order of the day, and salaries moved in dollar terms by leaps and bounds.
He added that, for 16 years, the GNNL had claimed that it could not find the records to indicate his final salary scale.
Yesterday, he expressed satisfaction that the GNNL had finally come forward with a record of his service, to the point of acknowledging his correct salary when he resigned.
“The GNNL statement has cleared this issue,” Harris said. Meanwhile, he is still to receive the Government share of his benefits.
Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, says that he is awaiting documentation to effect payment to Harris.
The absence of records of the period when he taught is being blamed for the delay.
According to correspondence from The Office of the President dated July 21, 1992, “The actual payment of the full benefits would be made by the last agency in which the officer has served prior to retirement.”
Harris started his career as a teacher on November 1, 1966 at the St John-the-Baptist Anglican School.
He entered the Government Teachers’ Training College (now the Cyril Potter College of Education) the following year. He returned to Bartica in 1969 and taught until 1973, when he joined the Ministry of Information.
According to Harris, the issue of his service as a teacher has still not been rectified, given that for some time now he was told that such records were absent.
Harris has been asked to provide two testimonials, one of which he has acquired from the headmaster at whose school he first worked.
According to Harris, the issue surrounding the payment of a cheque from GNNL should not sidetrack the issue of the fact that he has still not been paid his benefits from the Government.
To date, the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Donald Ramotar, has said that whatever is due to Harris he should be paid.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Alliance For Change, Raphael Trotman, has declared that persons should not be made to beg for their benefits.
And the leader of the Main Opposition party, the PNCR’s Robert Corbin, has said that the refusal of the Government to pay Harris his benefits is an illustration of the Government’s vindictiveness.
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