Barely five months after winning the general elections many Guyanese voters are already upset with their new coalition government A Partnership for National Unity-Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) after the ministers voted themselves a 50% salary increase.
For a government that promised hope, accountability, integrity, and value for money for taxpayers, voters are becoming disillusioned in believing that the present regime may not be much different to the old one.
Their position is that everybody deserves a raise, i.e. teachers, police, medical personnel, public servants and others. Online commentators have described the current government as deceptive, arrogant, dictatorial, sly, unapologetic, Burnhamesque, and having no regard for public criticism.
In addition, they believe that the government of President David Granger
have not proven themselves or fulfilled any of the promises that they made.
Before taking office in the past May, Granger served as Commander of the Guyana Defence Force and as National Security Adviser from 1990 to 1992.
In a country where pensioners get G$17,000 per month (1 US$ = G$207.21), store workers make an average of G$32,000 per month, a young police officer makes G$60,000 per month, and a decent job goes for G$100,000 to G$200,000 per month, government ministers make an average of G$575,000 per month plus perks such as housing, cars, chauffeur, and gardener etc. And now they are going to add 50% to that.
The government’s position is that a raise for public servants was one of the promises that they made during their election campaign. In fact, the expectation was that the salaries of all public servants would have been increased by 20%. However, once in government the Finance Minister, Mr. Winston Jordan, reduced that to 10% and eventually to a minimum salary of G$50,000 per month and a 5% increase for those making over the minimum amount. But it is obvious that government ministers believe that they are above that.
Adding further insult to injury is the public reaction to criticism of the government’s action by the Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, who said that he would make no apologies for it and that the ministers deserved it. He described the current slate of ministers as “quality” who should not have to accept salaries that are lower than they had earned in the private sector.