Even in the face of strenuous opposition, the government is going full speed ahead with the Hamilton Green pension bill which was read for the first time in the National Assembly yesterday.
And even though Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and even Green himself have suggested that the name ‘Hamilton Green’ be removed from the bill and substituted with Prime Minister that change was not made when Minister of Finance Winston Jordan called for the bill be read for the first time by Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs.
The Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Bill 2016 was written specifically for Green and provides for him to be paid a pension for his tenure as Prime Minister between 1985 and 1992 based on the salary of a current Prime Minister – a salary he did not earn. Green is to also receive the full benefits of a former President.
As his recommendation was greeted with “yes” and loud desk thumping by his colleagues on the government side, Jordan’s call was heckled by the opposition side with one parliamentarian asking, “Moses [in reference to the Prime Minister] when you turn coming?” Others said “no” and some recommended that the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) be consulted.
The GHRA is one of the two bodies—apart from the opposition—that have criticized the government for drafting the bill.
On Sunday, Transparency International Guyana Inc (TIGI) called for the government to withdraw the bill which it described as vulgar.
The TIGI’s statement came one day after a blistering attack by the GHRA which called it “obnoxious” and urged the APNU+AFC government not to present it at today’s sitting of Parliament.
“This bill for Mr Green is vulgar, politically partisan and it reeks of cronyism. It appears that the PNC faction of the coalition government is seeking to financially take care of one of its own former strongmen through the public purse,” TIGI declared on Sunday.
In its statement on Saturday, the GHRA said, “The Prime Minister Hamilton Green Pension Bill 2016 on the Order Paper is utterly shocking. His entire political career reflects the attributes that have kept Guyana ethnically polarized and, for this reason, securely anchored at the bottom of all Caribbean indicators of social and economic progress in the modern era. As a young and ruthless politician in the early 1960s his name figured prominently in the violence from which this society has still to recover.” It urged the government not to submit the bill.
It added that there is no justification for the bill beyond “cronyism” and noted that to date Green has “never apologized for the humiliation, hardship and violence to which the Guyanese people were subjected during his harrowing term of office.” It said that had late president Cheddi Jagan in 1992 “not ‘drawn a veil’ over the past in the interests of social peace, Mr Green might have found himself facing the courts.”