-situation forcing political loyalty
A practice by the previous Government of offering contracts under lucrative terms to retired public and
other officials is coming under fire.
Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, who over time has been criticizing the practice, believed that the unacceptable situation is skewed in favour of political loyalty.
This meant that Government would have sacrificed the hiring of technical and professional competence without any consideration of costs and the adverse effect it has on the morale of staff.
“I am aware that there are a number of persons who retire, say, today and return to work in the same position the next day. They were re-engaged on a contractual basis at emoluments significantly higher than their ending salaries when they were on the pensionable establishment,” Goolsarran explained.
Among other benefits, the retirees would have been enjoying duty-free concessions and in some cases tax-free salaries.
Goolsarran would be referring to a number of former top officials working in government services, including the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the President and even at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
In most cases, they would be hired outside of the normal recruitment process of the public service.
In one case, a senior official of the GRA reportedly opted to end his contract and receive millions of dollars in gratuity and his pension. He was hired as permanent staff a few days later, after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) narrowly won the elections.
At least one senior official at the Ministry of Finance had been receiving in excess of $2M monthly, more than what Ministers were being paid.
And there are a number of other similar cases.
It is unclear at this time how many retirees have been retained by the new administration under David Granger.
“I have written against this practice which encourages slavish loyalty to the political directorate in the hope of retaining employment beyond retirement age. The political directorate for its part is happy to facilitate this arrangement because of this continuation of loyalty.”
However, warned Goolsarran, in the process of doing so the morale of staff, especially senior management, is adversely affected since an aspiring and dedicated number sees no opportunity of heading the organisation.
It also has a trickle-down effect among the staff of the organisation.
“I am not aware of any precedence in other countries as regards the above practice. I do know, however, that Canada has abolished the retirement age so that one can continue working beyond, say 60 years.”
It is only when that staff member demits office, at age 65 or 70, that he or she receives the superannuation benefits; not before. The benefits are computed based on the full years of service and final salary.
Goolsarran pointed out that at the United Nations, a retiree can be rehired but in a lower position as a short-term consultant.
“As a consultant, he/she cannot earn more than a certain amount in any one year. If this happens, the person has to surrender his/her pension.”
In Guyana, however, the country seems not to have an affordability problem.
“The concerned person, for his/her part, is a happy individual because he/she gets a windfall for his/her slavish loyalty to the political directorate at the expense of the broader good and interest.”
The accountant said that it is a downright selfish action facilitated by a Government bent on managing the affairs of the state on the basis of loyalty, as opposed to technical/professional competence.
“If ever there was one, this is a classic case of bad governance,” he noted.
Overtime, the hiring policy of especially the previous administration came under severe criticisms by especially the trade unions.
A significant number of public servants were being granted contracts and given significant benefits compared to other co-workers.
Unions like the Guyana Public Service Union have been complaining that contract workers have been eroding their membership base. They also argue that other staffers were not given the equal opportunities for such benefits as a contract worker.
With Government complaining of an inability to pay increases to public servants, the hiring of retirees especially has been seen as demotivation for other staffers.
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