Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo has welcomed the announcement of the $50,000 one-off tax-free bonus for public servants earning less than $500,000 per month, but he believes that with public servants not given the 5% salary increase retroactive to January, they might be worst off.
During the PPP’s time in office, it would impose a 5% increase on public servants salaries while handing out one month’s salary bonus only to members of the Disciplined Force.
The APNU+AFC government on Monday announced that all public servants will be given the $50,00 tax-free bonus once their monthly salary falls below $500,000.
In a statement, Jagdeo said, “I am extremely happy that public servants will be benefiting from this bonus, particularly since they deserve it.” However he raised questions about the long term impact.
“Public servants in 2015 did not benefit from salary increases that were retroactive from January 1st of the year. Instead the salary increases were retroactive from July 1st. As such, public servants, while receiving a $50,000 bonus, did not receive the full year’s benefit of the salary increase, as was done in previous years – leaving them worse off in a net sense.”
The former President also questioned where the government was finding the money for the bonus when it had accused the PPP of leaving a bankrupt treasury behind after being booted out of office at the last elections.
According to Jagdeo, “the announcement from the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government follows claims that the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Administration had left a bankrupt country, yet $1.54B was found to pay public servants.”
On the sugar industry, he said he remains concerned that the government has not yet announced a year-end wage increase for public servants although the sugar industry has surpassed its target.
“I am disappointed at the fact that the year is almost to an end and sugar workers have not been paid any wage increases, nor an Annual Production Incentive (API) – despite the fact that Government has announced that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has surpassed its production target. This is the first time in several years that sugar workers have been treated in this manner”, Mr. Jagdeo said.
He said he is also disappointed that the “Government has demonstrated an unwillingness to assist rice farmers and gold miners, despite calls and recommendations of measures that can be taken to support these industries.”
Earlier this year, the government announced several measures to assist small and medium gold miners, ranging from duty-free concessions to tax-free fuel. The government has also been actively seeking new markets for rice even as rice exports have seen an increase.