The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) thinks that the rental of two $500,000 houses for two junior ministers of government is “immoral” and “unconscionable.”
The party’s position on the matter was made known yesterday during a press conference it hosted at its Queenstown headquarters. WPA’s new Chair, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley delivered the party’s take.
She said that the issue of lavish spending on Government functionaries is one that dogged the previous government and which was correctly condemned by the then opposition parties.
Sarabo-Halley said that it is therefore a matter of grave concern when similar practices seem to be creeping into the behavior of the present government.
The WPA Chair said that while the party does not object to government ministers being compensated at levels befitting their office, “We strongly object to the super-salaries and other compensation that seem to have become the norm in Guyana.”
She told the media too that the WPA cannot, in all conscience, defend and support gGvernment payment of half a million dollars rent for ministers especially when placed against the 50% rise in salary that was given to ministers in 2015. It borders on government splurging of taxpayers’ money,” she said.
Sarabo-Halley said that if ministers are being paid healthy salaries, enjoy the usual perks that come with the office and get their rent paid at $500,000 per month, then that amounts to enrichment at the expense of government. “It was wrong under the PPP and it cannot be correct now.”
She said that the WPA has always felt that the APNU+AFC government must distinguish itself from the PPP on these and other matters pertaining to management of government resources.
Sarabo-Halley continued, “WPA wishes to draw to our government’s attention that at a time when we bemoan a huge gap between the rich and the poor, it is inexcusable for us to be paying a monthly rent for ministers that amounts to approximately six times that of the monthly salary of the average public servant.”
She said that while the WPA agrees that the $25,000 housing allowance for ministers may be inadequate, the party absolutely feels that $500,000 is far beyond reasonable. “We therefore call for an immediate review of the unhealthy policy of paying mega rent for ministers.”
Weighing in on the matter, WPA executive member, Dr. David Hinds said that it is unconscionable for such an expensive rent to be paid using tax dollars He said too that it sends a wrong message.
“You cannot have one standard for the rest of the population and another for ministers; we are not a monarchy. Our government is supposed to be responsible to our people. So while we do believe that because ministers are managing the government they have to live reasonably and be given the kind of compensation befitting of their office; we also believe that that must be balanced against what the rest of the population is getting, the principle of fairness should be across the board.”
It is actually the State that is paying the half of million dollar rents for two junior Ministers of Government, Simona Broomes and Valarie Patterson. Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs, who manages the Parliament Office, said that it is the Parliament Office that is footing the bill. He said that it was an Administrative decision to rent the houses at $500,000.
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