They may not see eye to eye on several issues since the loss of their party at the elections earlier this year, but when it comes to the benefits they should be receiving as former Presidents, Donald Ramotar and Bharrat Jagdeo are holding the same thoughts on the issue. So much so, they have the same Attorney.
The two former Presidents are suing the state over the move by government to put a cap on the benefits enjoyed by former Presidents.
Attorney General Basil Williams made the disclosure on Monday during a press briefing at his office.
He said the two former Presidents have caused Applications to be filed in the High Court, seeking in effect to receive the large sums of money in benefits and other facilities that were capped following amendments to the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act.
The matter will come up before Chief Justice Ian Chang and Justice Narendra Singh on December 11.
But Williams has indicated his intention to seek leave to defend the Applications which were filed on November 11.
News Source secured copies of the Applications and according to the documents, the two former Presidents are claiming that the Amendments could not affect the uncapped benefits they had already begun to enjoy, having already left office.
Ramotar demitted office on May 16 2015 and Jagdeo on December 3rd, 2011. They are contending that the Amendments, which were passed July 9, 2015 should only affect the benefits of future Presidents.
“The question is really whether this country could afford uncapped benefits for former Presidents which could amount to hundreds of millions annually,” the AG added. “…But you have to ask why since these Applications were filed in November it wasn’t brought to the media.”
After a failed attempt while in opposition to cap the benefits enjoyed by former Presidents, the APNU+AFC made it a Parliamentary priority to pass the amendments and have it assented to by President David Granger.
The two parties used their majority to pass the Amendments in the 10th Parliament but those amendments failed to receive the assent of then President Donald Ramotar.
The Bill was unanimously supported by the government members in the absence of the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic. The Amendments allow for a capped allowance of $75,000 for water, electricity and telephone expenses each month.
The Act now 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.
The Act proposes that former presidents be allowed not more than two motor-vehicles owned and maintained by the state. However, they will continue to enjoy their Presidential pension of more than $1 Million per month.
The other former President, Samuel Hinds has so far not complained about the capped benefits.
The move to the courts by the two former Presidents come on the heels of their criticism of the new government for giving a salary increase to all Members of Parliament.