In President Jagdeo’s independence address to the nation he said serving the people has been the greatest honour of his life. When this statement is weighed against the President’s mismanagement of the country and the personal benefits he has accrued and will continue to accrue from holding such office it would reveal that he has been enriched at a level unknown to previous presidents and probably beyond even his wildest imagination. President Jagdeo is again on a world tour. Unlike heads of state who recognise the office they hold is one of privilege and in service to the people and would account to them the reason(s) for overseas trips and benefits to the nation, this President continues to withhold information in contempt for the citizens. This contempt also includes heavy costs to the already over-burdened taxpaying public. Additionally to having to fund the overseas trips, the President receives US$5,000.00 out-of-pocket allowance for each trip which he does not have to account for. On the other hand the rank and file worker is being asked to uphold the law and account for every cent of the public’s money entrusted to him/her.
If one were to count the amount of overseas trips, times the amount of US$5,000.00 Mr Jagdeo has received, it exposes the ugly underbelly of what he means when he says serving the people has been the greatest honour of his life. He runs a society where unemployment and food prices are skyrocketing; migration remains unabated; real wages/salaries are declining; young people are being denied employment opportunities in spite of their potential, zeal and stake in the country; the narco-economy has merged with the formal economy; there is escalating executive lawlessness, crime, poverty, discrimination and conflict, and disregard for constitutional rights. Other evident failures are seen in the avoidance/minimization of flooding and the effects of disinvestment in proper drainage and irrigation to eliminate/minimise loss of lives and property, and illnesses. The parliamentary majority maintains their silence in relation to these abuses, and uses their numerical strength to approve more overspending and mismanagement.
The draconian 16 per cent VAT and 33.3 per cent PAYE continue to reduce the disposable income of the ordinary workers as the President, ministers and some other officials enjoy tax-free income. It is a case where the ordinary workers bear the greatest responsibility for financing the economy while these officials run free. More burden is the President’s retirement benefit package.
In summary, for every US$5,000.00 President Jagdeo takes abroad, with the minimum wage at $35,000.00, a potential worker could have 2 ½ years’ employment, a current worker an opportunity to a make a livable wage/salary, or a retired worker a better pension or social services. And when he goes into retirement he will collect a monthly pension of $1 million dollars for the rest of his life, among other amenities. With life expectancy around 66 years and the president at age 47 the workers are saddled with this Cadillac pension for the next 19 years.