Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday maintained that no People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) parliamentarian has been accepting the salary increases instituted by the government in 2015, while explaining that some opt for direct deductions by the Parliament Office while others have standing orders at their respective banks.
“We will not take the unconscionable salary increase. That still remains our position today,” Jagdeo yesterday told a press conference.
Shortly after taking office in May, 2015, the government announced an increase in salaries for all ministers as well as Members of Parliament.
With the increases, Members of Parliament without a designation saw a 20% salary increase, taking their annual salaries from $2,002,116 to $2,402,532.
The increases, which were quietly gazetted without a public announcement, had been met with stiff opposition, 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.
The PPP/C had vowed that its parliamentarians would “not take a cent” of the increase but would deposit it into an account and would give it to various charities, depending on the consensus at respective times.
Last week, the Stabroek News followed up on the matter and asked Jagdeo if this was still the case.
Jagdeo informed that the party has an account at a commercial bank. He was unable to say which one. “I can’t tell you exactly how much money is in the bank account but it is a requirement that I know that our MPs are deducting the money and sending it to that bank account,” he said.
Asked what the party plans to do with the money, Jagdeo said that no decision has yet been made. He assured that “not a cent has been spent from the time the increase was paid out.”
The Kaieteur News yesterday reported that deductions were not taken from some 17 PPP/C parliamentarians by the Parliament Office as there was no standing order there permitting it.
Making reference to the report, Jagdeo said that he wanted to set the record straight that none of the PPP/C parliamentarians were collecting the increases, which he explained amounted to about $23,000 for each person.
He said that some of the parliamentarians had direct standing orders with their respective banks and not the Parliament Office, while others made the transfers themselves. “We have not spent a cent of the money, it has all been there,” he stressed.
“This [increase] is about $23,000 a month compared to about 15 times more, that ministers of government got,” he posited.
“It moved from about one hundred and seventy something thousand to about two hundred thousand …but what about those getting 15 times more?” he questioned as he went on about the increases, while zeroing in especially on the Prime Minister’s annual salary.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo now receives $20,580,000 annually, an over $2 million increase, taking his monthly salary to over $1.7 million. Vice Presidents, other than the PM, receive $11,135,064 per annum, while junior ministers of government earn $8,346,492.
President David Granger had defended the salary hikes, which range as high as 50% for those in Cabinet, calling the move an investment in quality governance.