Mar 06, 2017 News
The Hamilton Green Pension Bill will be read for a second time on Thursday in the National Assembly. The Bill seeks to safeguard benefits and other facilities to the former Prime Minister who served from 1985 to 1992.
According to the Order Paper for the 62nd Sitting of the National Assembly, the Bill, once passed, will enable Green to live in keeping with the high office he occupied. The Bill was read in the National Assembly for the first time in November of last year.
Green had defended his right to benefit from a former Prime Ministers pension despite being criticised by a number of individuals and organisations.
The former Prime Minister and former Mayor of Georgetown had said that there is nothing unique about past Prime Ministers being given a pension when all ‘civilised’ countries have established systems in place which cater for such officials after they would have demitted office.
Green had said that although it is covered in law for the President and Prime Minister to receive some benefits after leaving office, the former administration had carried the matter to Parliament in 2011 and thereafter only former Presidents and not former Prime Ministers were catered for.
Green is the only living former Prime Minister besides Samuel Hinds. However, Hinds had served as President of Guyana after the death of Dr Cheddi Jagan in 1997, making him a beneficiary of a Presidential Pension. As such, Green remains the only Prime Minister not able to receive a pension.
Since the announcement of the Bill, a number of persons would have levelled their criticism of government’s intent to give Green a prime minister’s pension including Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo.
According to Jagdeo, for the Bill to have any merit, government must show what contributions Green would have made to Guyana that qualifies him to have a special Bill in his name.
Jagdeo likened the Bill to his pension scheme which was heavily criticised by the government while it was in opposition. He described the move as duplicitous. The former President also questioned the title of the Bill since it will naturally benefit all future former Prime Ministers.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had said during a press conference that the issue has to be seen both in a historical and peculiar context. He said that in the peculiar context there is only one former Prime Minister that is available for any benefit.
“The issue from the historical context is that if someone held the office of Prime Minister and the person continues to be alive, you couldn’t give that person the pension of an MP (Member of Parliament). What he is getting there is the pension of a member of parliament because there will be no law that created a Prime Ministers pension.”
He said that without looking at the personality concerning the Bill, the matter should be considered as a justice issue. “Is it fair that someone serving as Prime Minister is getting a parliamentarian’s pension? So it requires the creation of a law for the first time to deal with that peculiar situation of one Prime Minister hanging out there on a pension that is not a Prime Minister’s pension.”
According to Nagamootoo the Bill will not take effect from 1985 but rather from the date of passage in the National Assembly. He stressed that Guyanese need to put aside their differences and bitterness that has contaminated the nation’s political culture, causing individuals to become angry when dealing with people who would have held offices in the country.
“He held the position of Prime Minister and therefore I believe this is a once for all legislation to allow him to enjoy the benefits a Prime Minister ought to get.”
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