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….as interim measuring pending negotiation with union
By Svetlana Marshall
Former Vice President, Khemraj Ramjattan, MP has called on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government to increase the wages and salaries of public servants by 10 percent as an interim measure pending negotiations with the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).
Ramjattan, an A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament made the pitch on Wednesday as he wrapped up his debate on the $383.1B Budget proposed for the Financial Year 2021.
“I propose that there be a wage increase of 10 percent across the board retroactive to January pending negotiations with all stakeholders in government and in the GPSU…” MP Ramjattan said as he made what he described as a “simple demand.”
The APNU+AFC said the request is in recognition of the hardship faced by public servants during the almost year-long COVID-19 pandemic.
“Please if you have any heart, ensure that, that happens. We would like lots more but 10 per cent minimum is what we seek at this stage,” MP Ramjattan said.
During the presentation of the multibillion budget by Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh there was no mention of an increase in wages for public servants for 2020, however, pressed for answers, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo subsequently told journalists that some $10B is included in the budget for public servants.
““The fact is that over $10B has been budgeted in the estimates under the head, ‘revision of wages and salaries’. A huge part of that sum will go towards salary increases for public sector workers,” Vice President Jagdeo said.
It is unclear at this stage by what percentage the salaries of public servants would be increased, and exactly when.
However, Ramjattan’s simple demand,” did not sit well with Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha.
“Mr. Speaker, to come here, to come here, and ask for a 10 percent wage increase for Public Servants, when they dismissed 35,000 and more people. How ironic that is? How ironic that is?” Minister Mustapha told the House as he rose to make his contribution on Budget 2021.
He said Government has already indicated that there is money in the budget for wages increase. “So to come here and try to play on the emotions of people is very cheap politics Mr. Speaker, very cheap politics,” Minister Mustapaha added.
On the campaign trail ahead of the 2020 General and Regional Elections, the PPP/C had promised a 50% salary increase for public servants, however, there was no such increase when the 2020 Emergency Budget was presented last September, and no such increase this time around.
The APNU+AFC, during its five-years in office, increased salaries by 26%, 10%, 9%, 7% and 9% annually from 2015 to 2019. The minimum wage went from $39,570 in May 2015 to $70,000 in 2019.