Why have retired public servants not been given a bonus?

Dear Editor,

What logic informed the one-off payment to only currently serving public servants? At the outset let us get one thing clear: public servants are grossly underpaid and any relief that is provided to them must be supported. Since I hold this view I am happy for the relief that the government has decided to provide to public servants working for less than $500,000 per month. However I have some questions for the government:

(a) Why only public servants working for less than $500,000 per month? Should we take this cut-off point to mean that the government feels persons with an income less than the said sum are in need of relief?

(b) Since retired public servants are forced to live on extremely small pensions, why were they not seen as deserving of relief? What is the moral argument for excluding them?

(c) Was Minister Volda Lawrence one of those making the decision on this one-off bonus?

Editor, even as I await a response (the truth is, I doubt there will be any) let me say I am truly tired with the way people in authority in Guyana tend to treat those who are not organized to defend themselves. If extending relief to this needy group would have been a financial challenge, then the government had the option of changing the criteria for those qualifying for the relief. No one would have opposed it if they had offered public servants a $30,000 tax free bonus so that public service pensioners could also have some relief. Further, with the explanation that they needed to also help pensioners the government could have lowered the qualifying monthly salary to $350,000. Guyanese are known to be caring especially in relation to their parents and their parents’ generation, and there would have been no protest.

Finally, Editor, are we going to hear from the religious community, the various trade unions and their governing bodies, to which retired public servants contributed from their small salaries during their years of service? I am disappointed and not at all comfortable with the government’s behaviour in this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Claudius Prince


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