Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has defended his party’s parliamentarians who collected their full salaries with a 2015 increase, despite promising not to accept it. The monies were supposed to be deposited in an account and later donated to charitable causes.
While a number of the 32 Opposition parliamentarians have agreed that the deductions will be done at the level at the Parliament Office, others have optional mechanisms, Jagdeo insisted yesterday during a press conference.
These include the Members of Parliament (MPs) paying the monies annually, in a lump sum, or having it deducted from their bank accounts and transferred.
The statements would come following a report in Kaieteur News yesterday which said that 17 Opposition parliamentarians are not remitting their increases via deductions from the Parliament Office.
In 2015, the Coalition Government announced salary increases for officials, including ministers and MPs. The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), in Opposition, made it clear that its members will not be accepting what it termed was the “unconscionable” increase.
Rather, they were to send it to a special account of the party, which is operated at Demerara Bank. Almost $3M has been deposited there so far, since 2015.
Yesterday, it was an indignant Jagdeo who held up Kaieteur News with the photos of a number of his MPs who according to information did collect their entire salary.
Among the 17 MPs were former General Secretary of the party, Clement Rohee; former Education Minister, Priya Manickchand; former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall and former Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill.
However, 15 MPs are allowing the Parliament Office to deduct the increases.
Pointing to the headline, ‘Broken Promises: Rohee, Nandlall, Manickchand, Edghill among 17 PPP MPs taking full salaries’, Jagdeo appeared puzzled about the “big issue” that would warrant an entire page.
He said that the party’s position is that the MPs will not be taking the salary increases.
However, he promised to follow up with his party to ensure that this remains so. So far, the PPP has not spent “a cent” of the increases, Jagdeo claimed.
“It is all being accumulated, so this is not about theft.”
Jagdeo challenged Kaieteur News to carry what he believes are more important stories on the increases and benefits for Government officials.
For example, the salary increases for current ministers are 15 times what the normal MPs are receiving. In fact, the salaries of ministers went up from $500,000 monthly to almost $1M.
The newspaper, Jagdeo encouraged, “should have pictures of Prime Moses Nagamootoo who has a $25M vehicle and is benefitting from almost $100M annually…this money could look after 1,000 sugar workers,” the former president claimed.
“There is no sense of outrage at this spending which includes $500,000 monthly rent (for ministers) in some cases,” the PPP leader said. “There is also no outrage over the levels of security, personal assistants, spending monies and unlimited spending for the President and the Prime Minister and their spouses.”
Making it clear that it is this Government which should be blamed for broken promises, Jagdeo pointed to the old age pensioners, rice farmers and sugar workers.
He named Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, and Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, as two persons who would warrant such coverage too. Jagdeo said he hopes that Guyana gets “his drift”.
Some of the “broken promises” include the $1B-plus spending on the Durban Park, the players of which are still lurking around the Government.
“That is what we should be asking,” Jagdeo said.
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