Guyana Executive President Bharrat Jagdeo continues to lie about his presidential pension package
OCTOBER 31, 2011 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER EDITORIAL
The Office of the President (OP) has responded to the claim made by Khemraj Ramjattan of the Alliance for Change (AFC) that President Jagdeo will be receiving a pension of $3 million per month.
The release from OP dubbed Mr Ramjattan “a compulsive liar” and claimed in turn that Mr Jagdeo will actually be receiving, “about one-third of that amount” – meaning about $1 million per month.
As best as we can verify, the statement from OP is technically correct – but only when the word “pension” is interpreted most narrowly and confine it to the monetary portion of the pension.
But this narrow definition is more notable for what it omits as what it states. There are sins of omission as well as sins of commission. First, we have to point out that the monetary payment is tax free: an ordinary citizen that earns that princely sum would have to part with $333,000 as taxes.
Then we have to include the benefits as enumerated by the “Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act No. 12”, which was passed in the first quarter of 2009 – under Jagdeo’s watch, we should note. These all obviously have a monetary value.
First, there is the “payment of water, electricity and telephone bills”. With the massive open air swimming pool that has to be cleaned and emptied rather frequently, the lawn that has to be watered and the other uses for water, we can conservatively estimate the water bill to be about $50,000 monthly.
Then there’s the electricity. Even when Amaila Falls come on stream, for a mansion the size of the Pradoville property, including the installed air conditioning and floodlights, we’re talking about another $300,000 monthly. Telephone bills for a man with Jagdeo’s international connections could easily run in another $100,000.
Next we move on to, “Services of personal and household staff including but not limited to an attendant and gardener”. Another $250,000 monthly? Remember he’ll need drivers for his vehicles – see below. What about “Services of an unspecified number of clerical and technical staff”? $400,000?
“Free medical treatment or reimbursement of medical expenses incurred by the (Presidents) for their own treatment or treatment of dependents” can easily run us another $200,000 monthly, since we know that individuals like the President will not be going to GHPC.
We can chalk up another $200,000 for “Full-time personal security and services of the Presidential Guard Service at their place of residence”. But it is the “The provision of a (unspecified) number of motor vehicles owned and maintained by the State” that takes the cake.
Jagdeo is used to moving around in Land Cruisers, Mercedes and BMW’s – and we note the plural nature of the “motor vehicles” to be made available. $500,000 monthly?
We’ve reached the additional $2 million that tops up the acknowledged $1 million cash payment to reach the claimed $3 million. And we have not even mentioned the “Annual vacation allowance equivalent to the cost of two first class return airfares”.
But with all the ostentatious demands on the public purse to the conservative estimate of $3 million per month, none displayed the mentality of Jagdeo more than this benefit he insisted on inserting into the legislation: “Toll free road transportation in Guyana”.
After benefits amounting to $3 million monthly, he still cannot pay road tolls? Berbician cannot walk across the Berbice Bridge; they have been denied waiving of the toll for schoolchildren, but an individual with $3 million in his pockets every month, gets a free pass?
In this editorial we have not touched upon the crucial point that was sought to be established in the debate surrounding the President’s pension: the comparison of the Presidents benefits with those of an ordinary pensioner.
The argument made is that Guyana, being a poor country, cannot afford more than $7500 monthly for the latter. So how do we justify $3 million monthly for the President? Surely we want our retired Presidents to live in dignity but is there no correlation with our means?