The unlimited benefits that were enjoyed by Former President Bharrat Jagdeo have been trimmed and the other two former Presidents Donald Ramotar and Samuel Hinds will also see their benefits being trimmed with the recent passage of the Former Presidents (Benefits and other Facilities) Bill.
There was speculation that the new legislation would not affect the former Presidents who had already begun to benefit under the previous legislation, but Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman made it clear this morning that the entire intention of the legislation was to trim the unlimited benefits and put a cap on them
“Going forward the Minister of Finance will be guided by the legislation that has been assented to by the President,” he added.
Trotman said the un-capped benefits currently enjoyed by the former Presidents will be restricted going forward but said the government has no intention to seek to recover or recoup monies that would have already been paid out.
The new legislation allows a capped allowance of $75,000 per month for water, electricity and telephone expenses. Before the amendment was passed, former Presidents would just submit their bills and those bills would have had have been paid.
Former President Jagdeo’s monthly electricity bill was more than $400,000 and his other monthly expenses were over $2 million. Over $45M was spent by the previous administration on Jagdeo’s bills between 2011 and 2014.
The Bill also limits personal household staff of former presidents to three and clerical and technical staff to three.
Former Presidents and their children will also be subject to a financial limit of $200,000 per annum in free medical attention and treatment or reimbursement of medical expenses incurred by – a former president himself and his children below the age of eighteen years.
Former presidents will be allowed not more than two motor-vehicles owned and maintained by the state. But the former Presidents will still enjoy their monthly tax free pension of $1.4 Million.
President Granger has also given his assent to the recently passed Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill and the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill.
Trotman, in an invited comment, disregarded the criticisms of the Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, over the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill and his promise to challenge the amendments.
“The emphasis should be on the word former, he is the former Attorney General, he has the right to his opinions and we have the right to ours and we have been duly and properly advised by the Honourable Attorney General and by eminent Senior Counsels that we are on the right track and standing. We would not enact laws we are not willing to defend,” Trotman added.
The Constitutional (Amendment) Bill paves the way for several main commissions and offices to have administrative control over monies allocated to them for their functioning.
Meanwhile, Trotman explained that in relation to the AML/CFT Act government will be meeting with stakeholders to review and discuss the regulations which accompany the Act.