Former Mayor to get new pension; Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Bill passed
By Stacy Carmichael-James
The Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Bill was tonight (Thursday, March 9, 2017) passed by Government majority in the National Assembly after several hours of intense debates.
In closing arguments, Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira told the House that when the PPP Administration realized that the President was getting three times lower than the Chancellor and the Attorney General it was decided that this be corrected. She believes that the Finance Minister was being “capricious” when he stated that the PPP suddenly increased the salary. The Chief Whip challenged the Government to drop the salary of the President if it is believed that the previous Administration erred in this regard.
Teixeira blasted Minister Valerie Patterson for making comparisons with Prime Ministers in Guyana with those in other parts of the world pointing to the fact that many of those Prime Ministers were Heads of Governments.
This Bill is all about rewards, she noted deeming it “political cronyism.” She said the Opposition would not oppose Mr. Green receiving an “ex-gratia” payment since the Government is contending that Mr. Green’s pension was incorrectly calculated over the years.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams in his presentation said Mr. Green was deprived of his correct pension and this Government had to “set it right.” “We are correcting a historical wrong,” said Williams.
He urged that Guyana moves away from the spiteful type politics, stressing that Mr. Green was denied the pension he duly deserved. The Attorney General raised the point that similar provisions were made and presented to the National Assembly in the names of other office holders; hence he sees no issue with the Bill being in the name of Mr. Green.
Meantime, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan in his closing remarks said the Opposition wants to trump the Bill based on personality and not principle and described this attempt as “sad.” However, he maintained that the Bill be passed forthwith to allow Mr. Green to get his pension and benefits.
In the preceding arguments Opposition MP Gillian Burton-Persaud raised objections with the process being used by Government to calculate the Former Prime Minister’s pension deeming it “political favouritism.” Why wasn’t the incorrect calculation brought to the National Assembly earlier she questioned. She called out the Government side for suggesting that Mr. Green was deprived of his rightful pension under the PPP Administration.
She was supported by her fellow MP Cornell Damon who noted that this is the wrong place for an “obnoxious Bill.”
Other speakers included Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, Minister of Labour Keith Scott and Minister within the Housing Ministry Valerie Patterson who also supported the passage of the Bill making reference to the numerous contributions of the Former Prime Minister.