With reference to the letter captioned ‘Public servants are grossly underpaid’ (SN, September 5), I visited Guyana in the summers of 2009 and 2010, and had matters to take care of with several ministries (pensions, NIS benefits, local government matters, etc), and several times I was asked by civil servants for lunch or taxi-fare money.
I was largely sympathetic, and almost always helped out. I did use my time to do a brief study of cost of living (rent, food, commuter transportation, etc) and found that basic salaries were either barely or not matching up.
This situation inevitably creates a breeding ground for bribery; hence the culture of bribery that now pervades Guyana.
So my conclusion is that the average working man (particularly public servants on fixed salaries) are under terrible strain to make ends meet.
How does society fix this problem?
Unions must fight for better cost-of-living increases. Government will say the treasury is broke.
So we need arbitration to decide a just and reasonable outcome. Also, economies that grow at a good clip should be able to pay better salaries.
Guyana should adopt the US dollar as its national currency.
(To say the average public servant is paid $50,000 a month is to deliberately distort and confuse, until you do some calculations and realize that $50,000 is really US$250. Now can Guyanese really (those on fixed salaries) live on US$250 a month? They pay the same cost for basic food items and clothing as I do living in New York. Also my commuter transportation (subway $2.50) is cheaper than the same kind of transportation in Guyana. So Guyanese are really getting a bad deal.
I call on the people and Government of Guyana again to seriously consider a union (federal or commonwealth) with Canada or the United States. Put it to a vote. Let the people decide. Would Canada or the United states go for it? I don’t know ‒ but go and ask them.
That’s how you will know.