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Weighing in on the recent World Bank Report, specifically the areas that dealt with poverty, the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) said the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government can do better for workers but choosing not to.
The Bank in report stated the share of the population living below US$5.5 a day is at around 48 percent and among the highest in the Latin America and Caribbean region. That is almost half the population living in poverty and forced to eke out a living on less and GY$1100 a day.
At its press conference, on Tuesday, the APNU+AFC ripped into the government for its management style, which they say is devoid of a people-centered-approach but more concentrated on taking care of the party’s elites, friends, family and favourites.
Touching on the payment of public sector workers (teachers and traditional public servants), the coalition stated resources are available to pay workers a livable wage but the government has chosen not to. Government “continues to give 3% to 7% increase on very low wages and salaries to workers. 3% of $70,000 is $2,100 per month for the poor man.”
It was recalled that the APNU+AFC paid a higher percentage to workers and a lower percentage to those earning over $500,000 to create some level of income parity in the system. But this “uncaring regime came and changed it and is giving across the board increases,” recounted the coalition. “What that means is while the workers are getting $2,100 per month on their salaries the President gets the same 3% on a salary of $3,000,000 and therefore he gets a $90,000 per month increase.”
“While the average man is taking home a $25,000 increase per year, the President is taking home $1,105,200 dollars per year. That is $1,080,200 per year more than the average man. The government does not care. Once they can live a nice life they are comfortable with punishing our people. If the government cares, it should calculate the minimum amount of money the average man needs to live and pay them a livable wage which will have to be no less than $150,000 per month.”
Guyanese, including the trade unions, have been clamouring for workers to be paid wages/salary that could ensure better quality of life but these entreaties continue to be ignored by the government. Recently, none other than former minister in a PPP’s government, trade unionist and present Chairman of the Trade Union Recognition Board, Dr. Nanda Gopual, said Guyanese deserve better wages.
AFC Member of Parliament, David Patterson, in a recent letter asked Guyanease to imagine “the quality of life for public servants who pay $40,000 rent, $5,000 water and light bills, transportation for a family of two paying $8,800 ($200 a day per person) and have $17,000 left for two persons to eat for the rest of the month.” Using these conservative rates, he said, in a simple family of two, with no other bills included, at the current prices, this is a serious social issue.