President David Granger has broken his silence on the salary increases for his Ministers of Government and Parliamentarians and he has defended the decision as one that the Guyanese people will eventually realize was the right decision.
Amidst a backlash from the public, the trade unions and several political analysts and rights organizations, the government has found itself being forced to defend the 10% to 50% increases for its Ministers.
The trade unions have criticized the move as coming too soon after the coalition got into government. But speaking on the weekly “Public Interest” tv show, the President said it is a decision to ensure efficiency and it was not done recklessly.
“As far as the salary increases are concerned, we had to make some choices, and choices were made in order to assure the public of the efficiency and commitment of the Ministers … It was a difficult choice in the first place. It was not something that we did recklessly. We had to consider all of the options and in the final analysis we felt that this was the best means of ensuring that the work of the Cabinet would continue”.
Minister of State Joe Harmon came in for criticism last week for declaring that the government had no apologies for the move to increase the salaries, as he made it clear that he does not believe he should work for the same $560,000 that he would have paid to new lawyers joining his private legal practice.
The President said the issue is more about professionalism and investing in quality.
He said “many of the members were professionals and some came from private enterprises. We are trying to ensure that the coalition’s Cabinet is such that there is a high level of efficiency. The changes have been an investment in quality governance”.
Earlier this week, Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman announced that the decision was a unanimous decision of the cabinet. At the post-cabinet press briefing, Trotman revealed that the government was presented with two proposals for salary increases but turned both down because those increases would have been more than what was eventually settled on.
President Granger said he is not blind to the criticism on the issue but a choice had to be made.
“I am aware of the criticisms but we have to make choices every day and the choice was made in favor of having a stronger Cabinet and allowing those persons who have been selected to fulfill their functions and I am confident that this will be done. In the middle term, I believe people will see that as a good decision… I believe that in time to come, evidence would emerge that we made the correct decision”, Granger said.