Nov 16, 2008 Peeping Tom
Issues often get blown out of proportion because people seek political mileage or merely a chance to criticize the Government at the slightest opportunity. There is not much that they can talk about at this time, so they try to resurrect history. Having done that, they present a distorted view of the actual events.
At this time, the most presented issue — and in only the Kaieteur News — is the fact that Adam Harris has had to wait for sixteen years to collect his benefits. Quite often, there are many reasons for the delays; and more often than not, it has nothing to do with the Government or the bureaucracy. Sometimes it has to do with the beneficiary.
Harris is not the only person who has had to wait a long time for his benefits, nor is he the first. Many people have chosen the quiet route and prevailed. Some have gone to court and prevailed, and still others have sought political intervention.
In the majority of cases, the situation is compounded by the movement of a person across the state sector. Generally, people would get an offer and would seek a release; and when that release does not come, the person would resign his job and move to the next position. This has nothing to do with the Government. Such movement has always been commonplace, as people seek to make the most of their skills.
In such cases, should there be continued resignation to take up appointments in one public sector entity or the other, more often than not, there is no continuous service; and this comes back to haunt the individual at the end of his working career. It is here that one hears that an individual has been working for a certain number of years and at the time when that individual should qualify for certain pensions and gratuities he/she cannot get his/her money.
Many people have fallen into this category, and sometimes the Government would bend the rules out of compassion for a person’s labour.
Then there are the ones who started in the public service and transferred into the public sector. This became easy to reconcile, because both were Government entities; but sometimes records become clouded, largely because the record-keeping exercise was limited to sheets of paper and bound volumes, which all succumb to the elements and to the passage of time.
People must not forget that some Government offices went up in flames, taking with them countless records of both people and events. In such cases, a person entering into retirement, if he or she is sanctioned by one of the service commissions, back up records could be found. There may be some problems with actual dates of employment, but dates of appointments are there.
Adam Harris was once a member of the teaching service, and therefore not a member of the public service. He then moved over to the public service on transfer, and later to the public sector, again on transfer. But he then moved into the political arena at a time when party paramountcy was the order of the day. A politician could take a worker and transfer him or her to political duties because the state was subservient to the party; and unless that worker was prepared to join the ranks of the unemployed, then he or she had better comply.
Sometimes these transfers were not even done through consultation with the person involved. The critics are all silent about this aspect of national life as it once was, and which changed with the advent of democracy in 1992.
Harris was caught up in a move into the political arena, and the decision had to be taken whether he had continuous service. This had to be a political decision, and might have been responsible for the delay in the computation of his pension and gratuity. Without such a decision, there would have been no question of pension and gratuity, because he did not have the years of service to qualify.
Records showed that he remained in the employment of the Government although he was assigned political duties, but this was the grey area.
The decision having been taken, Harris is about to be paid his entitlements; but there is the problem of accessing some aspects of his record of service, and this is being done.
For the critics and certain politicians to make noise about 16 years of waiting for benefits is dishonest, particularly on the part of the politicians, including Robert Corbin and Raphael Trotman.
Their involvement in this issue could hamper Harris more than help him. So when they rush to blame the Government, they must also take into consideration the fact that they had all the chances to correct Harris’s situation before the ruling party acceded to office.
They should not be among those seeking to blame the Government.
Jagdeo lying to the nation
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