Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has justified the 6.5% salary increase that the government recently announced for public servants, saying the government has a duty to be responsible and act in the interest of all Guyanese.
During a press conference today, the Vice President said a salary increase that is not grounded in an analysis of the economy, the state of the country’s finances and its revenue stream will not be sustainable.
He said the government has to pay 54,000 public servants at an annual cost of $89B.
“When you run a country, you have to take care of your public servants, they are your people that help you to administer the country, but you have a duty to all the people of the country too who are not public servants, who work, who contribute to national wealth and pay taxes. They also have to benefit from the treasury, you have to think about that too, you can’t get them to benefit by paying higher wages because they are not working with you, so you also have to make sure that they, in a way, they pay less taxes,” Mr. Jagdeo said.
The Vice President told reporters that it is no doubt that public servants are the backbone of the government. He said the Government has ensured that working conditions have improved and salaries have been increased, so much so that some categories of private sector workers are now opting to work for the government.
“I see somebody asked how 6.5% but you had to pay this year, from this year’s resources for the last three or four years, it becomes annualized, it recurrent, when you increase salaries, you have to pay for this year, last year, the year before increase, etc,” Jagdeo explained.
Additionally, Mr. Jagdeo said, public servants are also beneficiaries of a number of other initiatives from the government such as the removal VAT on water, electricity, data and some food items, directly impacted Guyanese, including public servants.
“It’s not only wages and salaries you can spend on, you have to spend on roads, electricity and we are subsidizing electricity now, that is a benefit to everyone, we have restored the subsidies to the pensioners, where do you think you fund this from, people don’t look at all of this, they think I 6.5% alone , Mr. Jagdeo noted.
The Vice President said although the country is now benefitting from oil resources, those monies cannot be spent only on salaries for public servants, but noted that government has increased disposable income to households by increasing the “Because We Care” cash grant among other initiatives.
The Guyana Public Service Union has criticized the increase as unilateral and has also indicated that it has clearly not taken the current cost of living and inflation into consideration.