Former President Bharrat Jagdeo may have started to receive benefits entitled to him under the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act, according to Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon.
Asked by this newspaper at his weekly press conference yesterday whether Jagdeo had started to benefit under the law, Dr Luncheon would not give a definitive answer but indicated the former head of state was not complaining and as a result it should be believed he is benefitting.
“I think you better ask the former president that but as a pensioner myself, an NIS pensioner, I think that my pension is due and payable and it is being received so I have no doubt my acquiescence with the standard operating procedures would kind of suggest that the former president is enjoying the receipt of his earned pension benefits,” Luncheon said.
There have been sustained criticisms of the benefits that the relatively young Jagdeo will receive for the rest of his life under the Act. Calls have also been made for the combined majority opposition in the National Assembly to revisit the issue.
In addition to a tax free pension, the entitlements for Jagdeo and future presidents under the act include payment of water, electricity and telephone bills at their place of residence; services of personal and household staff, including but not limited to an attendant and gardener; services of an unspecified number of clerical and technical staff; free medical treatment or reimbursement of medical expenses incurred by them for their own treatment or treatment of dependents; full-time personal security and services of the Presidential Guard Service at their place of residence; the provision of an unspecified number of motor vehicles owned and maintained by the State; toll free road transportation in Guyana; annual vacation allowance equivalent to the cost of two first class return airfares; and tax exemption status identical to that enjoyed by a serving President.