About 50 officers of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) have not received their Christmas bonuses, which some are claiming was done as a means of disciplining them.
Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, President Donald Ramotar, had announced that the joint services were to receive a one month bonus. There was no mention of any conditions to be applied for the distribution of the money when the announcement was made.
Some of the officers said that a list was sent out earlier in the month, based on information that was transmitted from Chief of Staff Gary Best to the respective division heads, to provide the names of all the officers who were disciplined for the year. The names of these officers were then taken off the list of soldiers due to receive a bonus.
Efforts by this newspaper to seek a comment from the army and Office of the President on the issue were unsuccessful.
Some of the officers stated that it is not within the powers of the Chief of Staff to take away their bonuses once the Commander-in-Chief said that they should be given it.
A military source told this newspaper that from all indications, the bonuses were awarded to the ranks and there were no special conditions attached to it as it was given in goodwill by the President. The source added that the bonus is for all officers who were in service when the award was given regardless of their position and stated that this is the first time anything of the sort has happened.
One officer told this newspaper that he did not receive his bonus that was given by the President and he believes that this was due to some disciplinary matters he was involved in. He said that this matter was dealt with and he still cannot understand why his bonus was withheld from him when no one had the authority to do so.
Another officer related that he is trying to find out the reason for him not receiving his bonus but has not received any plausible response. He too said that he was told that his name was not on the list of persons eligible to receive bonuses and as a result he took the matter to his superior, who told him that he was not aware of the situation and had to find out about it. Unlike the other officers who claimed that they felt they are being victimized because of actions that caused them to be disciplined, this officer is claiming that he was not disciplined. This, he pointed out, shows that the reason for not giving them their bonus is void. The bonus is for everyone who either did good or bad, as the President said, another officer added.