I am surprised at the extent of coverage awarded to the unnamed Ministry of Finance spokesperson in the article ‘Gov’t denies withholding budgeted funds from public servants’ published in the Stabroek News of December 7.
Such extensive coverage has not been given to anyone from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) who commented on the matter at caption. Further, anyone writing on this issue should be proud, professional and decent enough to be identify himself/herself with what he/she is saying.
However, there are still many things left unsaid and unanswered by the anonymous source. It is amazing that the print media have failed to insist upon the visibility of the author on such a serious matter that is of national importance.
The government’s spokesperson, who responded to the GPSU’s insistence that the law must be upheld and answers must be given for the approximately $3 billion dollars not included in the announced 5% pay out, has obviously put his or her foot in his or her mouth and/or like the proverbial ostrich has buried his/her head in the sand.
Let us examine the argument put forward, viz:
A “high ranking official” of the finance ministry was reported in the story as saying “when the budget was drafted, provisions for wages and salaries are made for public servants who are already employed by the government. The revision… was placed in the budget to cater for several things, including salaries for new staff that would have been added to the public sector’s payroll, to pay increased salaries to promoted staff; and to cover any other shortfalls that might have occurred. The entire sum… was never to be used to increase salaries.”
Be that as it may, if the official is suggesting that government over the year 2013 enhanced the staffing of the public service and has met employment cost shortfalls to the tune of $2.947B, then there seems to be incompetence involved.
It is however clear that the Minister must give details of how the sum was expended. This is the crux of the matter. There has been a lot of governmental sand dancing and vacillating on the issue of salaries and wage increases for public servants. If what they are saying is true, then they need to come out of the closet and put their cards on the negotiation table. This is not being done, because the truth is being hidden. They can pay more, but they want to further deprive public servants of decent wages and hold them hostage.
GPSU Branch Chairman