Kaieteur News – For decades now, there have been publications in the print media about former government minister and parliamentarian, Balram Singh Rai, being entitled to a pension and should have been receiving it a long time now. Mr. Rai left Guyana for the UK in 1970, never to return. At present he is 100 years old. Mr. Rai is just short of completing the exact period that was required.
The question is – should he have a pension? My answer is yes. This man served his country in outstanding ways in the 1950s and 1960s. From all that I have read about him, he seems to have been a man of principles.
Interestingly there are some dimensions to the pension quagmire. Mr. Rai lives as a recluse in London and has never communicated with the Guyanese people on the pension issue. I have read a biography of him by Dr. Baytoram Ramharack and there is a complete absence on any attitude of Rai on the pension injustice. Not even a line. For the 50 years that he departed Guyana, he has not indicated if he is interested in the pension.
Surely, he has an obligation to let us know if he interested or if he wants the issue to die. It makes no sense for advocates to keep agitating for it if the man himself doesn’t want it. He has just achieved 100 years and a group of eminent East Indian Guyanese scholars has published a letter deploring the non-existence of Rai’s pension. The crucial question is, does Rai or his wife want it. His wife is in her late eighties. All of Rai’s children are in their early seventies. Do they need the money? If yes, please indicate that so the advocacy can continue.
An interesting reaction about the pension story hit the news on February 11 last, when Mr. “Kit” Nascimento informed the nation that he, as a former parliamentarian, is entitled to a pension but has not received it since the eighties. Nascimento also stated that there are others like him.
When I read Nascimento’s revelation I decided to compose this column. Rai is 100 years old. Nascimento informed us he is in his late eighties. But comparatively speaking my wife is young with a young daughter and is entitled to her pension, which she has not received since 2011, when she was pushed out of her job as an investment officer at GOINVEST by the then government.
My wife worked for 14 consecutive years paying her money into the pension scheme of CLICO as a government servant. When CLICO collapsed the government had an obligation to its workers to pay their pension. They were serving the government. My wife lost millions of dollars in pension money and at the time had a daughter at university. We never took student loan for her studies. We paid from our meager resources. The then government in 2011 and the governments since that time need to fulfill the state’s obligation to my wife.
What about me and the money I lost at UG as a lecturer when my contract was arbitrarily terminated in December 2011? The Ombudsman contracted top class legal brains to pronounce on my dismissal. They ruled I was illegally removed. I was never compensated since 2011.
Since the Ombudsman report in 2013, I was never offered any compensation by the state. I never received a query as to if I would like to resume my lecturer status at UG. For the record, I am not interested in returning to UG. That part of my life is part of my history. It is gone. I don’t want to have it back.
Only Dr. Mark Kirton in his capacity as advisor to the APNU+AFC government thought I should be compensated. He told me wrongs should be righted and he thought I was wrongly dismissed. He took the Ombudsman report and that was the last I heard of the matter. I think Mark was showing his obligation to me as a friend of 44 years. But I think he was overruled by the high priests of APNU+AFC. I know Mark very closely and thus I know he will never reveal to me what happened. Also, he has an obligation to the PNC leadership so I know he would not tell me, and I will not ask.
So yes, Rai should have his pension if he needs it. I don’t know if Nascimento wants his. I can speak for the Kissoon family. My wife is entitled to hers. I should be compensated based on the decision by the Ombudsman. But ask me if you think I am hopeful.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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