Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
By Lisa Hamilton
While pointing out that Budget 2021 has “nothing significant” to offer to public servants, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Dawn Hastings-Williams, at Wednesday’s continuation of the debate, pressed for the administration to state what percentage increase in wage and salary will be given to the public sector and joint services.
Though the PPP/C has contended that public servants will receive this increase in due time, Hastings-Williams asked: “What is wrong with making that announcement during the four-hour-plus budget speech, Mr. Speaker? Doesn’t the Minister have the authority to pronounce on such matters? Is there someone else designated to make such pronouncements? Or are we telling the nation that there is another substantive Finance Minister in waiting?”
Taking a different path from the coalition in announcing salary and wages increases Government, in December 2020 after the passage of the 2020 Budget, announced a $25,000 one-off grant to all public sector workers inclusive of workers of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
Compared to the previous year  public servants earning between $100,000 and $1M received an 8.5 per cent increase; those earning less than 100,000, a nine per cent increase and those earning a minimum wage of $64,220 a total of $69,336, a sum in excess of their basic salaries, in their December paycheques.
That year, it was also announced that the minimum basic salary in the public service would climb from $64,200 to $70,000. All of the increases were tax-free and retroactive to January 1, 2019.
Added to this, increases occurred in the following allowances for health sector workers: Station Allowances – increased by over 260 per cent from $2,800 to $10,000; Hinterland allowances – increased by between 100 per cent and 600 per cent from between $4000 and $12,000 to $24,000; Risk allowance – increased by 900 per cent from $500 to $5000; uniform allowance for health sector workers – increased from $13,000 and $22,135 to $15,000 and $30,000; and on-call allowance for doctors also increased.
MP Hastings-Williams told the House that had the Opposition been consulted on the crafting of the budget there could be a chance of her showing support. However, she said that given that the Opposition did not so much receive an invitation to consult, the PPP/C, left on its own, has allowed the budget to become “spineless”.
She said: “So that the people of Guyana could have more monies in their pocket we [the APNU+AFC] increased the threshold of the income tax and that allowed our public servants to take home more monies so that they could have started at least to live a good life. So, Mr. Speaker, it doesn’t matter how many VAT you may reverse today, as long as our people — the public servants, the joint services and Guyanese — do not have adequate monies in their pockets, that will make no difference in their lives.”