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The Government approached the National Assembly on Monday for approval of a $44.8 billion Supplementary Budget. Again, there was nothing inside that signals government’s intention to do better for public servants. Vice President (VP) Bharrat Jagdeo recently boasted that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government has treated public servants well.
The VP cited the taxable seven (7) per cent imposed wages increase and risk allowances given to frontline workers. Frontline workers are classified as essential workers. They include the healthcare workers who during the height of the pandemic provided critical support services to society. Progressive societies have rewarded these workers and comparatively better than Guyana.
A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) shadow minister of legal affairs and labour, Roysdale Forde SC, is not buying the VP’s boast, which he said is “vacuous and constitutes a gross absurdity.”
The evidence shows, “public servants are given pittance while others and those who are known traditional supporters of the PPP/C, in the private sector, are given huge amounts from the public purse.”
Forde contends when one considers the different groups that make up the public service and the private sector then one can easily recognise that one group is given increases that are massively disproportionate to its felt needs, both at the personal and the community levels.
The MP has before flayed the government for its discriminatory management of the economy, expressing concerns that “the situation is deteriorating at a very rapid and worrying pace…[and] if left unchecked, could fester racial strife, aggravate poverty in local communities and retard national growth and development.”
The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has taken the Government to court for its failure, thus far, to respect the right to collective bargaining for workers represented by the Union. Under the incumbent regime public servants are treated as unimportant and undeserving of decent remuneration,” said Forde.
The Union also blasted the government for what it said, “is now an inescapable fact the PPP/C Government is very reluctant to better the lot of public servants, as with a national budget of GY$552.9 billion, backed by a drawdown of US$200 million or GY$41.7 billion, has not motivated it to engage the GPSU in the necessary process of collective bargaining towards an agreement for a living wage for public servants.”
It is this level of disrespect for the public servants that has influenced the government’s imposed paltry 7% for two years, said Forde. “As large sums are given as gratis to others, who are believed to be supporters of the ruling party, the public servants get nothing!
“All in all, the government appears not to care about the lot of public servants. If it were not so, public servants would have had a higher quality of life. But after drawing down more than $80 billion from the Natural Resources Fund, the government has given nothing to those who keep the wheels of state turning.”