Notice has been served that APNU MP Carl Greenidge will move a motion in Parliament for the repeal of the controversial former presidents’ benefits act but without prejudice to the payment of benefits.
The passage of the act in 2009 with what were deemed to be extravagant and unlimited benefits for former President Bharrat Jagdeo had been unanimously condemned by the opposition and heavily criticized by the public. The actual pension payment was not an issue but the benefits that came along with it. Jagdeo was pilloried for wanting to live a Cadillac lifestyle from the day he left office while the average pensioner gets very little from the state.
Parliament Office today said that notice of the motion was received on March 26, 2012 and the motion is to appear on the Order Paper for April 17.
The recital to the motion says that whereas the provisions of the Former President’s (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009 has caused concern and resulted in adverse reaction among sections of the citizens of Guyana in particular as it relates to the capability of the country to sustain the benefits set out in it that the National Assembly should take steps to have the legislation repealed “without prejudice, however, to the payment of benefits”.
The resolve clause also says that a Parliamentary Committee should be convened to examine the Pensions (President, Parliamentary and Special Offices) Act, Part II Section 4 (Rate of President and Calculation of Pension 7/8 Ceiling of Pension) and to make proposals for their revision.
The motion also says that the Special Parliamentary Committee should submit as a matter of urgency a revised superannuation benefit package for those persons to whom the Parliamentary and Holders of Special Offices Act applies and for those other categories of employees covered by other government pensions and arrangement/plans.
Further, it says that this revised package should be sent by the Special Parliamentary Committee for consideration and approval by the National Assembly.
Greenidge also recently served notice of a question for Finance Minister Ashni Singh about whether regulations under the Act had been issued.
In addition to a tax free pension, former Presidents shall, during the remainder of their lifetime, be entitled to:
*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
*Tax exemption status identical to that enjoyed by a serving President
When it was presented in Parliament the opposition argued unanimously against. The provisions of the Act will be applicable to Jagdeo, Prime Minister Sam Hinds and President Donald Ramotar.
Critics have also said that the pension should be not payable on demitting office but at the pensionable age. They point out that Jagdeo at age 48 is capable of earning income.