–$400M payout for frontline health workers
TO further improve the living standards of Guyanese, the government has announced a seven per cent increase in wages and salaries for all categories of public servants.
The increase, which is expected by the end of December, will be paid to public servants, including teachers, members of the Disciplined Services, constitutional officeholders, and government pensioners, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said in a special announcement on Thursday.
In a subsequent interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI) on Thursday, Minister of Public Service Sonia Parag said this pay hike will benefit over 20,000 persons.
“When you look at it holistically, government is investing heavily in the public sector, and it is because the government has recognised that public servants are working very hard to keep the machine of government running,” Minister Parag said.
In addition to the pay hike, $400 million has been set aside for a special 2021 payout to be made to frontline workers in the health sector who, Dr. Singh said, continue to face extenuating circumstances in the daily discharge of their duties, as the country and the world continue to battle the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The details of the provision will be released soon, but the payout will be made by the end of December 2021.
Dr. Singh said, too, that the government has also recognised that there are disparities in pay across positions in the public service, to the extent that persons with similar degrees have been paid differently, according to the agencies they work with, or the various salary scales by which their post is classified.
In light of this, the senior minister said that the government will work on reducing the inconsistencies by making adjustments to salaries, in order to reduce the pay gap; this is expected to be reflected in Budget 2022 which is currently being prepared.
Dr. Singh related that since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government assumed office in August 2020, work commenced to improve the lives and circumstances of Guyanese.
The minister with responsibility for finance said the focus has been on improving economic and social conditions and quality of social services, as well as restoring the business climate, and restructuring the budget to re-orient public spending to programmes with the greatest possible impact.
Recalling a few measures that the Dr. Irfaan Ali-led government has so far implemented, Dr. Singh cited the COVID-19 cash grant of $25,000 per household, which resulted in $7.5 billion distributed to families across all ten of the country’s administrative regions, and the $19,000 grant for children attending public as well as private schools.
Additionally, pensioners and persons were given a one-off $25,000 cash grant, while $200 million was provided in electricity credits to households that met a certain criteria.
When consolidated, billions of dollars have been channeled through the government to households, in order to improve the overall quality of living during the pandemic.
Minister Parag said, too, that since assuming office, the government has been making significant investments in the country, despite having to contend with a pandemic.
The minister said that while a large number of persons were laid off around the world, in Guyana, public servants continued to receive their salaries.
“Government has tried its utmost best to maintain a level of humanity, in terms of having its public sector be stable,” Minister Parag said.
She said that the government is delivering on its Manifesto promises, and that their investment in the public sector does not end with the salary increase, as it will continue to work to improve the lives of all Guyanese.