Increased pensions for some retired UG lecturers should be included in Green pension Bill

Increased pensions for some retired UG lecturers should be included in Green pension Bill

Dear Editor,

When I read of the Bill re Mr Hamilton Green’s pension to be presented in Parliament I was reminded of the saying: ‘It’s an ill wind that blows no good’.

In 1975 I was seconded from the Guyana Public Service to the University of Guyana. The instrument of my secondment was signed by Minister Hamilton Green. I was attached to the university for thirteen years and attained the rank of Senior Lecturer.  In1995 I became eligible for a pension.  My pension amounted to seven thousand, one hundred and twenty-five Guyana dollars ($ 7,125) per month.  I have never received any of the five per cent annual increases granted to public servants through the years. I was always told that I was ineligible.

Over the years I have made three formal attempts to get some kind of relief, bearing in mind that inflation and increases in the cost of living have severely eroded the real value of my pension.     My last attempt at having this matter addressed was made six months ago. On the advice of Technical Adviser to the Minister of Education, I obtained a certified list of retired lecturers whose monthly pensions were under ten thousand Guyana dollars. As far as I can recall the list had about ten names. I subsequently presented this list to the Minister of Education, Dr Roopnaraine, with whom I had a brief discussion.  Dr Roopnaraine promised to discuss the issue with his colleague the Minister of Finance. About a month ago I emailed Dr Roopnaraine enquiring what progress had been made. I am still awaiting a response. Probably the matter was not very high on the Minister’s list of priorities.

However, in spite of the outcry at the Hamilton Green Pension Bill (which I think will not only be passed, but might also take effect retroactively), my intention is to seize this opportunity to highlight the plight of some retired University of Guyana lecturers whose monthly pensions (pittances) range from $4,500-$9,500, by piggybacking on the Hamilton Green Pension Bill, and to respectfully ask that: (a) either the Green Pension Bill be amended to include a significant increase in pensions for the affected retired lecturers; or (b) a supplementary Bill be tabled on behalf of the said retirees. We ought to keep in mind the kind of message that this situation is sending to persons who may be considering a university, or higher-level teaching career.

The gross inadequacy of the University of Guyana’s pensions has been known for decades. In the early 1990s, when Dr George Walcott, a former Vice-Chancellor, retired his pension was extremely small. A Bill was introduced and passed in Parliament awarding him a much higher pension. A precedent does exist.

Yours faithfully

Clarence O Perry