Jagdeo lavish pension at the expense of poor Guyanese
The President’s benefit package is a revelation
SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
In reading about former Presidents’ Benefits and Other Facilities Act No.12 which was passed in Parliament – 2009 – as presented by Alissa Trotz in the Diaspora under the caption: “The distance between Government and the Governed: Another look at Pensions in Guyana”, S.N July 18th, I was reminded of an Anancy Story.
In that story, Brer Anancy named himself “All of you” so that every time the servant brought the various foods on a platter and placed it on the table which Anancy and the other animals sat around, saying “this is for all of you”, Anancy smiled and took it all for himself.
He would then explain to the animals that the reason for treating him so special was an expression of love and appreciation. Thus all the animals were left hungry as he glutted himself.
This lavish benefit package which Trotz wrote about, and which the ordinary man in the street hardly knows anything about, explains the entitlements that are guaranteed President Bharrat Jagdeo during the remainder of his life after he demits office.
We learned also that even if he takes another job in a governmental position, it does not affect his pension package.
There is need, here, to reproduce part of this benefit package that Trotz highlighted for the sake of those who missed it: “A Tax-free pension, free medical treatment for him and dependent members of his family for the rest of his life, an unspecified number of vehicles to be maintained at the taxpayers’ expense, an annual vacation allowance equivalent to the cost of two first class return fares, full time personal security and security at his place of residence, payment of services for an unspecified number of personal and household staff, payment for the services of an “attendant” and a gardener, payment for services of an unspecified number of clerical staff, payment for services of “technical” staff, payment of his water rates, payment of his electricity bill, payment of his telephone bills, and toll free road transportation in Guyana.
Now this is not the story of the king in his magic suit; this is fuh real, a golden benefit package that all can see. For me this Benefit Package is insulting and vulgar. With the present pension rate at starvation level $7,500, it is a most disturbing scenario, “obscene” indeed, with a pensioner today getting just about $250 per day when a loaf of bread costs $260!
I have no idea what is the President’s take home pay and allowances but I’m sure he doesn’t have to spend one cent of it. Now I can understand Dr. Roger Luncheon’s position on this matter in which he was reported as saying that the Benefit Package is “minimal”.
I see his role as akin to that of Squealer in Orwell’s Animal Farm. Even Government. Ministers hear no wrong, see no wrong period! I can overlook opposition parliamentarians; what thoughts pass through their minds when this golden benefit package is placed
alongside that of pensioner-$7,500 per month.
How do we condemn the activities of gangsters, three-card players, chain snatchers, pick pockets, petty thieves, tax evaders etc. but fail to see or make any similarity or nexus between them and thy Golden Benefit Package Act.
The breakdown in income and spending for two pensioners shows up the unconscionable and preposterous existing state of affairs.
From $15,000 a couple must perform a miracle to take care of basics:-food, transportation, medical, electricity and phone bill. What then does the $162 billon budget matter to the poor who is left to starve on a pittance!
Nothing could be further from the solid truth that “government has an obligation to ensure the needs of its citizen are catered for” that “there could be no development if the state of the poor remains the same”
I’m in full agreement with Trotz in saying that politicians should be confronted and asked to explain their silence on this eye pass, giving former presidents a blank cheque on an immoral benefit act while pensioners must subsist on next to “nutten”.
Brazen as this whole golden lifetime package is, maybe, just maybe it could have been glossed over if there was more consideration for elder folks who having made their contribution and now sailing into their twilight were treated with more decency.
For me the main hurdle that I think we will have to get over is enacting policies/laws that allow and protect the elite class to have it way, in every-which-way.
Alissa Trotz deserves to be commended for highlighting this obnoxious act that our opposition parliamentarians avoided. Makes me ponder on the reason, the advantage/disadvantage, the difference in being frank and hold from abroad than at home.
As Forbes Burnham was fond of saying: “don’t stay abroad and cuss me come home”.