Kaieteur News – I don’t chase after status; I never did and never will. But I have two types of statuses in Guyana that cannot be denied. First, I am a trained academic who taught for 26 years at UG. Secondly, I have been a columnist with three leading newspapers in this country for 32 years and I am still in that occupation.
Why then with that background, a person like me cannot sign a Life Certificate for a pensioner for both Old Age pension and NIS pension? But if you think someone with my background is excluded, then read the following categories of occupations that are also excluded.
Before we list them, a word about the announcement by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. The Ministry informed the nation that pensioners can now collect their monthly stipend at PaySure, Western Union and Money Gram in addition to the traditional route – the local post office. That is a superb policy for which the Minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, should receive praise.
Important to note is that when you collect your stipend, the teller has to collect your leaf from your pension book for that particular month which must be signed by the pensioner. The Ministry has made it even easier. The Ministry will facilitate your money going directly into your bank account.
But since the money is going into your account, what happens to the pages in your book? The Ministry has stated that for those whose money is going into the bank, they must lodge the signed pages with the Ministry. We come now to one of the greatest mysteries in the 21st century that I would give anything to hear the Ministry’s explanation.
The pages to be lodged with the Ministry must only be signed by the following categories of people – Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, Commissioner of Oaths, Medical Practitioner, Head Teacher, Minister of Religion or a Manager of a Bank or Branch of a Bank.
Here now are the people who cannot sign the Life Certificate page – university lecturers, senior school teachers, engineers, army officers, business people, municipal officers, lawyers, scientists, parliamentarians, journalists, computer specialists, artists, renown sport personalities like the national football captain, the national cricket captain or West Indian cricketers who live in Guyana, public service managers, church officials from Guyana’s leading denominations like the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jehovah Witness, Ratafarian and Bahai religions.
Here now is my position. I don’t have an objection to the seven areas the Ministry has outlined. For intellectual reasons, I would like the Ministry or some other person in this entire world to show me the logic behind the choice of seven areas of work only.
Simply put, why is a bank manager a person of higher status than an engineer with the government of Guyana? So, engineer, Wayne Watson, who was recently made head of the Demerara Harbour Bridge cannot sign an Old Age pension page?
Established lawyers like Nigel Hughes, Sanjeev Datadin, Ralph Ramkarran, Sase Gunraj, among others, cannot sign a pension form? Surely, Madam Chairperson of GECOM, a former judge, should be allowed to sign any form – Old Age or NIS. Come on man, don’t tell me that scientist, Dr. Vincent Adams, is not allowed to sign an Old Age or NIS form? The questions are mountainous. For example, why is a medical practitioner of higher status than a university academic? Why is a head teacher of higher status than an army officer and police superintendent?
I am sure the Ministry has logical reasoning for such a decision. But my curiosity knows no bounds. I am a trained academic that try to reason intellectually in my work so I think I will learn more of how humans think when I hear why only seven categories of people can sign a pension form.
But wait! There are more inscrutabilities, inexplicabilities, enigmas and oddities in the life of Guyana that titillate the mind of an academic. Do you know the exact seven categories the Ministry outlined also obtain for UG pension and NIS pension? The anachronism is understandable at the NIS and the Ministry of Social Services but surely not at a university where the intellectuals who work there should know better. I once brought up the subject with Vincent Alexander when he was UG registrar. He never acted on my suggestion. I hope he doesn’t deny that. Here is a little incident that I hope Adam Harris doesn’t deny. One evening at his desk in Kaieteur News, I saw Adam signing NIS life certificates, so I shouted out, “Adam no, editors can’t sign.” Adam looked up at me with a light smile and said, “Freddie shut yuh stink mouth.”
(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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