Jan 21, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) on Friday maintained its position that the government’s policies must portray its priorities which must be the people of Guyana and specifically workers.
In a statement, the Union said that the government’s budgetary plan for 2023 is not people centered based on its analysis of the allocations. The GPSU pointed to the “meagerness of salaries and wages paid to workers in Guyana” over the decades past and the need for Government to step up to its responsibilities to the people of Guyana, of which Public Sector workers must be a priority.
“There has been a lot of glowing commentary on Budget 2023, where there are some comments that amount to nothing more than misrepresentations of facts. There is ideally one truth that has been consistently unmasked by budgets for decades and that is an obvious disregard for the employed poor and the underprivileged by the creation of a system of intergenerational dependency, which has sustained the working class over time,” the statement said.
The GPSU said that as the representative of Public Servants, it has made it clear, consistently and repeatedly, that Government as the major employer in Guyana has the responsibility to better the lot of its employees.
“The PPP/C Government, while admitting that their employees are the employed poor in Guyana, have not done anything willingly to lift Public Sector workers out of this morass. Instead, for twenty-five years to date, it has openly and consistently set out to destroy the employee’s basis of representation, alienate them from secure and pensionable employment, ignore the need for collective bargaining and pay starvation salaries and wages,” the Union said.
Meanwhile, the Union said that it proposed several measures to the government for the 2023 budget but they were “either ignored or frowned upon”.
Among the measures suggested by the Union were the increase of the income tax threshold to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00) per month or one-third of the individual income, whichever is higher; De-bunching of staff, awards of increments and incentives and the improvement of allowances and working conditions; The income tax rates be further reduced to 10% on the first taxable $150,000 and 20% on the balance of taxable income, instead of the current methodology of 28% and 40%;
A non-taxable allowance of forty thousand dollars ($40,000.00) per month for dependents; A non-taxable allowance of seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000.00) per month for students who are dependents and are pursuing tertiary level education (eg. University of Guyana, Guyana School of Agriculture, Guyana Technical Institute etc.); A reduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to six percent (6%) and Remuneration increases should also take into consideration the inadequacy of salaries, when these are compared with the cost of living and remuneration of Public Workers throughout CARICOM States. There is no doubt that there is a negative disparity in pay, well to the disadvantage of the Guyanese Public Servants.
“At a glance, only 1.7 percent of the $781.9 billion budget affords any relief to the working class, pensioners and the destitute, but with the ravages of the cost of living, etc. this would soon evaporate. It is most unfortunate for the people that it is the Executive populates the Legislature, creating no real basis for the people to examine and amend the atrocities contained in Budget 2023. This enlightenment should serve as a wakeup call to the people to demand legislative changes that would give them a voice in Parliament, since the cabal installed en bloc, with no identifiable constituencies have been proven capable of only lifting themselves and their cohorts to desirable heights, while denying same to the rest of the populace,” the GPSU said while noting that issues concerning the alleviation of poverty should encompass no less than twenty-five percent of the Country’s annual budgets and this should include components that provide a living minimum wage to Public Sector workers.
In light of this position, GPSU said that considering the cost of living and other factors that “a living wage in Guyana should not be less than two hundred thousand dollars.”
“These measures, in the opinion of GPSU, would have been more beneficial to the working class and would have enabled them to better cope with the economic pressures at home, especially now that Government enjoys access and intends to drawdown a minimum of $208.9 billion from the Natural Resources Fund during 2023, compared to the approximate $126 billion that was utilized from the fund in 2022. The acceptance of these measures would certainly have lifted the apparent disdain that Government seems to have for Public Servants and put Guyana on a real path towards being the Dubai of South America, as is jocularly being spoken of in political circles,” the GPSU said reminding that its written proposals, now and in the past were all ignored in government’s financial planning.
The GPSU said that notwithstanding its proposals to Government, nothing should undermine its responsibility to treat fairly, consider and address issues concerning a livable wage for employees.
“In this regard, it is opportune to suggest that the starting point should be the updating of the basket of goods, upon which the consumer price index is determined to more accurately reflect the needs of today’s families, in order to properly relate to consumers woes and be realistic when determining salary and wage revisions.”
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