WPA to meet on ministers’ pay hike – Trotman

The executive of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) is to meet and discuss the recent hike in salaries for government ministers and other officials, but executive member Desmond Trotman yesterday said the alliance supports the position of its youth arm, which among other things said it was dissatisfied with the method and timing of the increase.

Trotman, who was an APNU member of parliament in the last sitting of the National Assembly, said the executive would be meeting during this week and a statement would be issued on the issue. The WPA is one of the parties in the APNU grouping and its senior member, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine is a member of the government and would benefit from the salary hike.

The increases were quietly gazetted without a public announcement earlier this month, after an initial denial in August that they were being considered. President David Granger along with members of his Cabinet including Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has defended the pay hikes, which go as high as 50% for those in Cabinet, calling the move an investment in quality governance. The administration has come under scathing criticism from a wide-cross section of Guyanese but it has stood firm on the issue. Protest actions have been mounted against the increases, particularly since the coalition had promised “significant increases” for public servants during its election campaign, but only delivered a 5% increase in its first national budget.

Accountant, and attorney-at-law Christopher Ram, who is also President of the Guyana Bar Association (GBA) writing in yesterday’s edition of this newspaper called on the WPA to speak on the issue since it is a party with a “deserved reputation for speaking out on issues of political morality, conflicts of interest, misuse of power and fairness to and for the working class.” He said if the party wants to restore its reputation it will have to do more than bear its “unhappiness in silence.”

In a letter earlier this month the youth arm of the WPA said that the electorate had expectations that the administration “would ensure that the needs of the people would be met before the needs of the individuals in power.

“From the perspective of the youth, the non-convening of the National Youth Council and National Youth Conference along with some other yet to be completed plans that were stipulated in the APNU+AFC Action Programme for the first 100 days, along with what some may call marginal increases to public servants salaries can be perceived as rewarding self while not accomplishing what was promised,” the youth arm said.

“We are of the firm belief that this decision and the method by which the public was made aware of it will leave a bitter taste to the mouths of many supporters of the government since it strays away from the many messages preached during the campaign season that dealt with real change, transparency and accountability. We also wish to alert the current administration that the perception of the public must not be taken for granted when making decisions, and that their first duty is to serve the people and not self,” the letter further said.