Benefits for Jagdeo, Hinds will be capped under new law – Greenidge

APNU Member of Parliament Carl Greenidge says that former presidents Bharrat Jagdeo and Sam Hinds would have their benefits capped once the new President’s Benefits and Other Facilities bill—recently passed by the National Assembly—becomes law.

Greenidge is challenging arguments to the contrary by Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh. Upon the passage of the bill two Fridays ago, government speakers, including Nandlall and Singh, had insisted that the legislation was an exercise in futility, since it would not affect any of the former presidents nor President Donald Ramotar whenever he demits office.

The move to repeal and replace the President’s Bene-fits and Other Facilities Act of 2009 still requires President Ramotar’s assent, which is unlikely, in order to make the new provisions for caps on benefits law.

“The view that the Act seeks to be applicable to the 2009 decision and therefore covers former presidents Jagdeo and Hinds is correct and is eminently appropriate. Although lawyers routinely eschew retroactivity – making new legislation change rules and thereby affect the rights of persons who had operated under the old rules – it is neither a sacrosanct nor God-given principle,” Greenidge said in a comment to this newspaper yesterday.

“On the question of retroactivity it needs to be said that the [new law] is not specifically aimed at [former president Bharrat Jagdeo] although he clearly used his position as president to award himself special benefits not mentioned in the Constitution,” he said.

Greenidge said that while the opposition can see virtue in a former president receiving a pension, in the light of the level of the pension no additional benefits should be provided.

“In looking at the benefits provided for under the 2009 Act we can also see some justification for some medical benefits, some security and domestic and clerical assistance. We have seen no sensible justification for these benefits being unlimited. The suggestion that this should be the case because Mr Jagdeo was such a wonderful leader is not even worth a response, if only because the legislation will not be changed for each president,” said Greenidge.

Greenidge said that in a “desperate” bid to protect Jagdeo from the effects of the repeal of the 2009 Act the Attorney General and the Minister of Finance have tried to cloud the real issues. “Under the 2009 Act Mr Jagdeo paid himself uncapped allowances and a pension which could jointly exceed that of the sitting president,” he said.

He noted that the Guyana Constitution provides for the sitting president to receive a pension and uncapped allowances and that the allowances are limited only by his judgement and the capacity of the state. “That Constitution also provides for a former president to receive a pension and superannuation. It makes no mention of, or provision for, other benefits and facilities for a former president,” he said.

“It needs to be stressed that the benefits and allowances provided by the public service and from which the benefits are derived are not automatic, they have to be approved and are governed by certain rules,” Greenidge stressed. “More specifically, allowances are not income and are subject to change including withdrawal. So the claim by the AG that these allowances are property [meaning guaranteed, quantifiable and predictable income] is utterly false,” he said.

More in Local News

default placeholder

‘Prime’ suspects in Corentyne triple murder held

Police yesterday arrested seven more persons in connection with last week’s shocking triple murder at Black Bush Polder including two prime suspects.

Sanjay’s Jewelry Store on Sheriff Street

Bandits raid Sanjay’s jewellery store

Four bandits carted off millions of dollars in cash and jewellery on Saturday night after holding the owner of Sanjay’s Jewellery at gunpoint at his Sheriff Street home.

Wavel Sabsook

Electrician dies in Diamond crash

An electrician died just after midnight yesterday after he was thrown out of the car he was in after the driver lost control and crashed into a fence at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.

default placeholder

Committee agrees on candidates for Public Procurement Commission

Five persons to serve on the long-awaited Public Procurement Commission (PPC) have been selected and a report from the body responsible for the shortlisting, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will be presented to the National Assembly at next week Thursday’s sitting, sources say.

default placeholder

Four months on, Harmon’s China trip has produced no results

Four months after a controversial trip to China, there has been no favourable outcome on two major issues that Minister of State Joseph Harmon engaged in.

Leekha Rambrich

Drastic fall in rice sowing over El Niño – Rambrich

The El Niño dry weather has resulted in a drastic decline in rice cultivation this year, especially in Leguan and the Essequibo Coast and in the Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary creeks.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: