Jordan says Hamilton Green’s pension “erroneously calculated” over the years

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By Stacy Carmichael-James

 

Finance Minister Winston Jordan, this afternoon (Thursday, March 9, 2017) read the Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Bill for the second time in the National Assembly and started off the debate by highlighting that in accordance with the Constitution Former Prime Minister Hamilton Green should be given a pension that matches the office he once held and that of other office holders.

He noted that former Prime Minister was one the longest serving Prime Ministers in Guyana and therefore he deemed the arguments advanced when the Bill was forced introduced as unnecessary. The Minister called out the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc. and the Guyana Human Rights Association for their “caustic” remarks towards Mr. Green.

Minister Jordan said that nowhere in the Constitution does it state that a person’s pension should be forfeited or denied if he or she has been accused of wrongdoing.

As of 2016, Jordan disclosed that the former Prime Minister’s pension was equivalent to the monthly salary of an administrative officer in the Public Service, which is just over 165 thousand dollars. According to the Minister Green’s pension had been “erroneously calculated” for the last few years, noting that he was treated as a mere legislator instead of a person who held a high office.

Today, the Finance Minister said the pensions of Former Presidents, Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald Ramotar and Sam Hinds are in the sum of over One million, five hundred and thirteen thousand dollars, which is nine times more than Former Prime Minister Green.

Minister Jordan said the passage of the Bill which is in the name of the Former Prime Minister seeks to provide him with the pension he duly deserves and which he was denied because of his perceived wrongdoings during his tenure in office.

In his rebuttal Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall said what existed before was a loose arrangement as it relates to the package to be received by those serving in high offices.  According to him the current Bill before the House bares no relation to his salary, as the law provides. He said Mr. Green was earning a pension in relation to his salary.

Nandlall noted that if there was an error in the calculation, then the Government should make the corrections and reimburse Mr. Green and bring that package to the Assembly for approval. He maintains that the Bill is not a pension, but rather some kind of tokenism the Government wants to offer the former Prime Minister.

According to the Opposition MP, Article 149 of the Constitution states that no law should make any provision that is discriminatory and this Bill he says is discriminating against every other pensioner in the country.

He questioned on what basis is Mr. Green getting the benefits and facilities of a Former President, while he was a former Prime Minister. Nandlall pointed out that the Hamilton Green Bill comes at a time when Government claims there is “no fiscal space” to support the sugar industry and for the exemption of Value Added Tax from Education and Health.

The MP said the Bill defies logic, history and decency and is a slap in the face of all hardworking public servants such as teachers and nurses. He also questioned why the Bill is only confined to an individual and not applicable to all Prime Ministers.

He argued that the current Prime Minister’s salary is higher than the Presidential pension, highlighting that when he retires then his pension would be even higher that the former Presidents. Hamilton Green, he pointed out was the Mayor of Georgetown for many years, unelected and enjoyed perks and other benefits that come with that office, hence he dismissed suggestions by the Finance Minister that Mr. Green was living like a “pauper.”

The packages, Nandlall said should be able to withstand meritorious examination, unlike the current Hamilton Green Bill which he deemed a manifestation of political patronage.

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