Nov 27, 2021 News
…says salary hike, just one of many measures aimed at bringing relief
Kaieteur News – Following the growing pushback in relation to the announced ‘meagre’ seven percent across the board increase for public servants, Head of State, President Irfaan Ali yesterday sought to contextualize the state of affairs.
In an ‘election campaign style’ presentation lasting some 37 minutes, President Irfaan Ali, used up more than half of that time lambasting what he called ‘politicised’ unions and the ousted A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).
“When the APNU+AFC came to government, they inherited a buoyant economy; they didn’t inherit a situation which we inherited – a COVID-19 situation, the economy in shambles.”
According to the President, the increase provided by his government, as such, has to be seen in the context of an economy decimated by the then government and a global pandemic, in addition to the global economic environment.
In a televised broadcast from the lawns of State House, President Ali first sought to discredit the five percent increase that was given out by the then APNU+AFC administration, which he said amounted to an increase in disposable income of some $700M.
This is since, of the more than $900M which accounted for the increase paid out, and in excess of $200M was taken by the administration through taxes.
“If you look at the increase that the APNU+AFC would have given, the total value of that increase paid in 2015 was $917.3 million. In 2015, the total value of the increase was $917.3 million. When you take out the PAYE that the APNU+AFC government took back from the salary increase, it was approximately $222.1 million being taken back. So, the net gain for the workers was $696.2 million, which is far less than a five percent in a net sense.”
Lamenting his predecessors’ performance in office, President Ali used the occasion to run the gamut of perceived wrongs.
These include the imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on items such as electricity, water and internet, a 50 percent increase in salary for Ministers.
He did not mention that the 50 percent referred to was also applicable to all of the members of the National Assembly, including himself.
In contrast to his predecessors’ performance, the President, however, was quick to point out that his administration has done more for the people of the country, in terms of making available to them more disposable income to the tune of billions of dollars above any increase the APNU+AFC would have paid out.
He cited as examples, the one-off cash grants and COVID-19 relief packages, in addition to other measures implemented by his administration since taking office.
Lashing out at trade unions specifically that would have condemned the increase as meagre, President Ali said, “Today, I am seeing a lot of so-called trade union leaders, who are more political operatives; I would consider them political operatives. If you look at their attitude and behaviour and their level of activism now, compared to when the APNU+AFC was in government, you would see that they are driven by an agenda, and [in] this country sometimes, we do not want to call a spade, a spade.”
To this end, he said, “when you have persons driven by an agenda, they try to distort the facts, they try to distort the truth, and they try to manipulate information… I say to all of those in the public service, and all of the workers in this country, do not be distracted.”
Speaking to an international context, President Ali, in fact, praised his administration’s ability to outshine others globally, and pointed to countries like the UK, which has a wages freeze in place.
Additionally, he pointed to fact that several countries across the world, rather than focusing on salary increases and other benefits for their citizenry, are in fact prioritizing other areas, such as protecting jobs.
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