Guyana’s opposition looking to put an end to Former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s plundering of the Guyanese tax dollars
UPDATED: Guyana’s opposition moving to slash former presidents benefits.
Almost one week after government announced meagre increases in Old Age Pensions and Public Assistance, Guyana’s opposition political parties on Monday signaled they would be moving to scrap the Former President’s (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009.
A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Carl Greenidge is tabling a motion for the law to be scrapped- a move the Alliance For Change (AFC) will support. AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan also plans to table an amendment for the law to be repealed.
Ramjattan says the AFC will likely support APNU’s motion in exchange for support for its amendment to be repealed. While the combined opposition can use its one-seat majority of 33 seats to pass Greenidge’s motion and the AFC’s amendment, Ramjattan says the president can refuse to assent the amendment but face public ridicule.
“The president might very well not assent to the Bill but he will have to show the nation, their supporters, the ordinary people how they are hypocrites and their rhetoric does not match their reality,” Ramjattan told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com )
But government spokesman Dr. Roger Luncheon on Thursday appeared bemused at Greenidge’s motion.
“I don’t see what on earth a parliamentary motion can do in the face of statute. If I could be presumptuous and I suspect I would be considered so … he would know that the only way you could repeal a piece of legislation is not by parliamentary motion, that indeed an act of parliament to amend or repeal the extant legislation is the only way to so do.”
According to Dr. Luncheon, the move by the APNU parliamentarian is mere “grandstanding.”
Decisions to challenge the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009 were made known after last Friday’s announcement in the National Budget that Public Assistance will increase from GUY$5,500 to GUY$5,900 monthly and Old Age Pension from $7,500 per month to $8,100 per month.
The opposition has been voicing concern that while Former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s pension alone would be an estimated GUY$1 million monthly, the law tabled in 2009 gives him another GUY$2 million monthly in electricity, telephone, vehicles, fuel, security personnel and other staff.
“It is now obvious that when compared to what the ordinary pensioner is getting, the facilities and benefits must go,” Ramjattan added.
The Guyana government has vehemently denied that Jagdeo is getting such a hefty package of benefits and other facilities.
Greenidge, in his motion, agrees that the National Assembly should make appropriate, adequate and reasonable provision for a president to enjoy a comfortable and dignified retirement. At the same time, he argues that it must be linked to the ability of Guyana to pay.
“Former President’s (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009 has caused concern and resulted in adverse reaction among sections of the citizens of Guyana, in particular as to the ability of the country to sustain the benefits set out therein,” says Greenidge in his Motion.
He wants the 65-seat House to “immediately take steps to repeal the legislation “without prejudice, however, to the payment of benefits.”
Greenidge, a former Finance Minister, instead recommends that a Parliamentary Committee examine the Pensions (President, Parliamentary and Special Offices) Act, Part II Section 4 (Rate of President and Calculation of Pension 7/8 Ceiling of Pension) and to make proposals for their revision.
He will also ask the House that a Special Parliamentary Committee submit as a matter of urgency a revised superannuation benefit package for those persons to whom the Parliamentary and Holders of Special Offices Act applies and for those other categories of employees catered for by other government pensions and arrangement/plans.
The revised superannuation package, he says, must be sent by the Special Parliamentary Committee for consideration and approval by the National Assembly.
The recent racist outpourings by Donald Ramotar should be taken very seriously.
Not only were they blatant lies, but also they were racially explosive, libelous, and has set out to taint APNU as a racist party.
This is an age old PPP trick, painting fear into the Indian population. This well worn tactic of fear mongering, and political crassness are dangerous to the development of this country.
Ramotar and the old hacks of the PPP have come to the realisation and to their senses that they can no longer run the country as they have done for the last twenty years and will dig deep to salvage whatever they can to bring disunity to this country.
I have been on the campaign trail during the last elections, attended most of the rallies, small meetings, bottom house meetings… not once did I hear a racist comment from either the speakers or the masses in attendance. Should such an occurrence happened, I would have been the first to address the issue with Mr. Granger or any of the senior party members. Thankfully, this was not the case.
Ramotar should look into the membership of APNU and count how many “Indians” were on the campaign trail, all committed to bringing an end to the rule of this divisive, morally corrupt PPP government.
I am a firm believer in “giving a man a chance”, this I was prepared to do with Ramotar. In less than three months he has destroyed what semblance of hope I had in him. Now, the election Mantra has a much deeper meaning…”no place for Donald…”
By STABROEK STAFF | LETTERS | MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2012
Freddie Kissoon is bang-on with his position that the PPP has and has always had an authoritarian culture. However, Mr Kissoon did not examine why. I must state that many features of the analysis below are applicable to that other political wrecker-in-chief, the PNC, now APNU. It starts with the fact that the PPP remains a communist party at heart. Communist parties are totalitarian in structure and practice. Nonsensical notions like democratic centralism are used only to hoodwink the followers. At the end of the day, a handful of men and women handpicked by the bigwigs have always controlled all the power within the PPP, excluding the rank and file. Ever since Balram Singh Rai challenged the Jagans, the PPP has centralised power in the hands of a few who make all the decisions for the hundreds of thousands who support the party. It is this travesty that saddled this nation with a neophyte like Mr Jagdeo who went on to rival Burnham for his authoritarian tendencies and currently Donald Ramotar, who had many questions surrounding his qualifications for the presidency. The autocracy started with the Jagans and has continued. Cheddi Jagan’s political skill and class made him an obvious choice for leader but there was nothing wrong in Cheddi being re-elected in a proper transparent democratic process.
Authoritarianism thrived in the PPP because of several factors. Firstly, the PPP inner circle fooled its membership into believing that internal dictatorship was necessary for the survival of the PPP in order to prevent Western intrusion. Secondly, this argument was extended to the claim that PPP’s internal dictatorship was necessary to fight the PNC dictatorship. Thirdly, the PPP inserted serious anti-dissent clauses in its communist constitution to keep the membership in line. Fourthly, totalitarian concepts like democratic centralism were masqueraded as democracy when they were nothing but rank autocracy. Fifthly, the PPP exploited the lack of education about democracy among its supporters. Sixthly, the PPP exploited ethnic insecurity and promoted the concept that democracy within the party was expendable in order to maintain the PPP’s standing as the provider of security for Indians. The PPP blurred the lines between ethnic affinity and party fairness. Ethnic security or insecurity is no barrier to internal party democracy. In fact, the PNC has just demonstrated that fact. Democratic elections within the PPP would have still delivered Cheddi and Janet Jagan as leaders, but likely not Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar.
Ninth, the PPP practised blame transference by focusing on the PNC’s dictatorship to deflect its own internal autocracy. Tenth, the PPP congresses were carefully managed, controlled and influenced events which led to the same set of people getting selected again and again to the prime positions within the PPP. Eleventh, the PPP centralised power to small groups such as its Executive Committee, a group of 15 that directs and controls the party. Twelfth, the PPP fosters functional superiority where an incompetent who is loyal must be put on a pedestal by the general membership simply because he has ingratiated himself with those who were handpicked for power. The incompetent serving as a minister or as a party executive must not be questioned and must be embraced at all costs. This is classic functional superiority and leads to party totalitarianism. Mr Jagdeo who could not hold a candle to men like Mr Nagamootoo and Mr Ramkarran within the PPP obtained functional superiority over these giants by an innately undemocratic selection process led by Janet Jagan. The same could be said for Donald Ramotar’s selection as the PPP’s presidential candidate. Thirteenth, the PPP has planted some fears in its supporters such as don’t-split-the-vote and unity-at-all-costs to detract PPP supporters from the real problem of internal dictatorship.
There is nothing wrong in the PPP having an internal revolution akin to what occurred in the PNC after its 2006 election debacle. Despite its continuing flaws, the PNC has become more democratic than the PPP and has elected its presidential candidate in a far more transparent process than the PPP. It is quite ironic that PPP supporters who complained bitterly about the PNC dictatorship had nothing to say about the PPP’s own internal dictatorship. The PPP supporters must demand democracy within the PPP before it wrecks itself. It is not only the loss of Indian support that internal authoritarianism brings, it is the loss of ethnic crossover voters who are necessary for the PPP to win a majority.