Salary Increase
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ON Thursday, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh announced a seven per cent retroactive salary increase for public servants and other categories of public employees. Singh also announced a whopping $400M that would be set aside as another one-off payout to frontline workers and an undertaking to correct the disparities in the pay scale in Budget 2022.

This announcement follows a commitment by President Dr. Irfaan Ali, and the People’s Progressive Party to deliver increases to the public servants this year.

Lo and behold, before public servants or employees could start to count the dollars that they would now get to take home on their December pay, the main political opposition party, APNU+AFC, and Deputy Speaker Lennox Shuman entered the mix. They created confusion and political mischief by spreading misinformation and ‘jumbie-economics’ to the masses.

Firstly, Shuman was being politically disingenuous, to put it lightly, by seeking to accuse the PPP/C Government of failing to honour a so-called commitment it made on salaries for public servants on the election trail of 50 per cent.

This move was wicked and deceitful. Where or when did the PPP ever promise such an increase to public servants? Which media reported that absurdity? Who in the PPP said that, and where is the proof of them saying so? As a public official, Shuman must know better. He is not exempt from the fire if he deliberately peddles this false line.

Maybe, it is incumbency that is affecting him. After all, he knows pretty soon, he will lose his grip on power and influence to make statements on matters in the political landscape of the country.

Secondly, this misinformation about the salary increases, coupled with a series of unfortunate statements, is now being perpetrated by the opposition APNU+AFC politicians. They believe that the government should have offered more to public servants, thereby, seemingly rejecting the announcement of the increase. At this point, it is apt to note that it seems like the APNU+AFC politicians are being carried away by the ‘jumbie-economics’ and the crass nature of mathematics of Winston Jordan.

The APNU+AFC politicians are pulling out numbers from the sky and inventing economic analyses to seek to say that the increase is not fair and reasonable even despite the world economic crisis due to COVID-19, challenges with the global supply chain, and other external shocks. Juretha Fernandes, Tabitha Sarboo-Halley, and Jordan should be ashamed of themselves because their comments on the salary increases showed how little they know of a sound financial, monetary and economic policy that is stable and prudent.

These politicians went out on the limb, and one even quizzed what happened to all the oil money. The truth is, no money from the oil resources was spent for salary increases this year, and the reasons for that are well-known.

Instead, the APNU+AFC politicians should be giving the government credit for the impact this would certainly have on the cost of living and inflation. They should not be using the issue of public servants and other employees’ pay as a political tool as they seek to influence the outcome of their Congress scheduled for December 11.

Thirdly, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) should not lay blame on the government for this announced increase due to the collapsed collective bargaining process. It is the union that did not enter into the negotiations in good faith and a spirit of cooperation. President Ali is on the right path to award an increase that will be to the benefit of the workers this Christmas.

The GPSU will seek to complain only, instead of working along with the government, diligently, to secure a livable wage and suitable incremental increase for Guyanese workers. The union appears more focused on politics and frustrating the government at every turn. It needs to take the negotiations process seriously appealing to the government’s sense of justice and consciousness about the economic challenges that public servants face, especially in these times.

Finally, this is not the end of the line for public servants to receive a salary increase or package which is reflective of the progress and movement of the economy. Looking at the mid-year report optimistically, 2022 will offer much more to the working class, especially public servants.

In addition to the $20 billion or more dollars that the government placed directly in the citizens’ hands through direct cash grants and aid, government will continue, from the looks of things, to look at bigger ways to develop new programmes that will result in better lives for all Guyanese.

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