Former mayor Hamilton Green yesterday lashed out at non-government bodies, which, over the weekend, objected the bill proposed to award him a pension for the period he served as prime minister of Guyana 1985-92.
Green said the bodies are “fomenting strife” and “distorting history and are not dealing with the relevant issues”.
Over the weekend, Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) and the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) called for the withdrawal of the bill. TIGI described it as vulgar, politically partisan and reeking of cronyism, while GHRA in a statement on Saturday referred to the bill as “obnoxious” and urged the APNU+AFC government not to present it at yesterday’s parliamentary sitting.
Yesterday morning, hours before the bill was scheduled to be presented to the National Assembly, Green hosted a press conference at his D’Urban Backlands residence to address the issue.
Responding to the blistering criticism, Green said TIGI and the GHRA “speculated on matters that they don’t know about.” He referred to the statements as “mere propaganda. Those statements are easy to make and are a part of cycle of people out to create confusion and are not dealing with the reality.”
Green is of the view that he should receive a pension for the time he served as prime minister of Guyana. “In every civilised country the president and prime minister are paid a special pension and benefits,” he pointed out.
He asserted that such acts are a “universal practice, in every corner of the globe…”
He said the bill “is timely, just, fair, and in order,” stating that he has been depending on his wife and children for years. “If it wasn’t for my wife and children where would I be? I am not ashamed to say it. I have been able to maintain a certain level of living thanks to them,” he declared.
“The bill prepared by attorney general’s office intends to set the stage so that principles established years ago of global acceptance and universal application are put in place for the incumbent prime minister when he ceases to be prime minister,” Green added.
Asked if he had ever approached the former administration for benefits he responded in the positive saying that on several occasions he had brought to the attention of the previous government that there were some errors with the legislation ought to be corrected. “When the PPP brought the [former presidents] bill in 2011, they did not include the prime minister,” he said, adding that it was unclear to him why former prime ministers were not included.
“What we see today is an effort to do that. I expect that lawmakers are able to iron out whatever inadequacies there are. I don’t think what is happening now can be considered as lavish, extravagant or out of kilter with the rest of the world,” he continued.
He mentioned a letter former prime minister Sam Hinds wrote in 2011, in which he impassionedly argued that people who held high office should live in dignity.
Green said he shared the view of current Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo that the bill should not be specified to one person.
“I myself thought that the wording should be former prime minister,” he said, “but there must be some reason why my name is there and the days I was prime minister.”
In its statement, GHRA noted that if the bill is enacted, Green would receive an annual pension of $20,580,000, other benefits to the value of $3.1 million annually, two vehicles provided and maintained by the state and two first-class annual airfares provided by the state.