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Simona Broomes says “Government got to find a place to put me in”; WPA calls for review of policy

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One of the junior Government Ministers for whom taxpayers are paying $500,000 rent per month has shared her views on the matter.

In a recording released by the Government’s information arm, Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes noted that the administration with whom she is employed “got to find a place” to put her.

“Government brought me from my home -not a house, I don’t live in house- I come from a home where I have my family and my sacrifice and my commitment to my people, I am happy to have the support of my family and many of you here, because ‘it is not a walk in the park” Broomes stated.

The half a million dollars rent being paid by the National Assembly for two junior ministers of Government came in for harsh criticisms over the past week. However, Broomes noted that “I have been listening and reading the rumours – I do look at them – they do not touch me, I do not have anything in my closet, I am that ordinary woman, Simona Broomes, I will maintain that. I just ask God every day to keep my heart in the right place.”

Only yesterday (Tuesday, July 04, 2017), the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) which is also a part of the Coalition Government criticised the rental being paid for the houses used by Ministers Broomes and Valerie Patterson.

The WPA noted that while it does not object to Government Ministers being compensated at levels befitting their office, it strongly condemns super-salaries and other compensation which seems to have become “the norm in Guyana.”

Reading from a prepared statement, Chair of the WPA, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley said “WPA cannot in all conscience defend and support Government payment of half a million dollars rent for Ministers. When one places this fact against the 50% rise in salary that was given to them in 2015; it borders on Government splurging on taxpayers money. If Ministers are being paid healthy salaries, enjoy the usual perks that come with the office and get their rent paid at $500,000 per month, then that amounts to enrichment at the expense of Government.

WPA’s Executive, Dr. David Hinds

The party highlighted that this practice is one which plagued the last government and was condemned by the Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), therefore, it cannot continue now. It pointed out that the Government must distinguish itself from the former administration on these and other matters pertaining to the management of Government resource as it likened the sum being expended to “6 times that of the monthly salary of the average public servant.”

The WPA’s Executive Member, Dr. David Hinds expressed the view that the ministers can either utilise Government homes or pay their rents.

“We understand that every time we come to talk about teachers’ salary, public servants salary, we need to negotiate and we talk about 5% and 10% and all of that. Against that background, a category of workers- because Ministers are workers- a category of workers cannot be treated in that way. This is a matter of morality. How can you as governors say to the rest of the population we can’t give you 10%, we can’t give you so much percent…because it will affect growth and all that thing. How can you in all conscience then turn around and pay a rent of $500,000?” Dr. Hinds questioned.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

A suggestion was made by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan to reduce the cap to $300, 000 but this was also rejected by the WPA member who noted that the Ministers should utilise government homes located at Campbellville, Georgetown and elsewhere in the city.

The question was also posed to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon on Friday last, who disclosed that the matter did not engage Cabinet at its last meeting. He, however, told reporters that the Government homes are “in run down state”. He further said that there are many persons who require homes based on their ‘Conditions of service’, but it cannot be provided due to lack of availability.

After a few questions on the matter, the Minister said: “This is where the information will rest on that matter”.

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