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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Guyana Govt rethinking 100% pay hike for MP's

I can't belive this happened less than a week after my mentioning it. I am amazed that any politicians could refuse a pay hike. Apparent'y I'm too epssemistic. Thank goodness for some statesmanship. Of course there is political hay to be made from refusing the pay hike, but still many politicians generally have a hard time refusing pay increases. was this simply an attempt by the Government to buy bipartisanship?

Govt to withdraw MPs pay hike order
-following fierce opposition criticism
Stabroek News
Thursday, January 11th 2007

The government is to withdraw a controversial Order that would have withheld pay increases from Members of Parliament unless they gave written agreement to them.

Stabroek News understands that Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon has written the Clerk of the National Assembly indicating the government's desire to withdraw the Order which has been severely criticised by the opposition.

In December, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh presented the Ministers, Members of the National Assembly and Special Offices (Emoluments) Order 2006 to allow for pay increases for up to 100% for government ministers and MPs. Singh also presented an amendment to the Order, providing for an increase to be payable only to those office holders who signified their agreement with the increase in writing, not later than December 27. Where an office holder does not comply with the requirement an increase would not be given.

However, PNCR-1G MP Robert Corbin had objected to the Order after it was presented to the House, calling it unprecedented during his long tenure in the Assembly. The party subsequently submitted a motion to Parliament calling for the Order to be nullified. It described the Order as a dangerous precedent, denouncing it as "a despicable attempt by the PPP/C administration to silence members who might hold a different view about the increases to be paid." It said MPs should be free to express their opinions about any proposed increases in their remuneration in an atmosphere free from threats. It added that they should also be free to determine how they will deal with any remuneration eventually paid, including donating any sum to a charity of their choice.

Although the PNCR-1G members were instructed not to sign the order, one member did so by accident.

AFC MP Sheila Holder described the Order as an abomination. She said it looked like a major faux pas for the Attorney General's Chambers and the Parliamentary Counsel, though she opined that it might have come as result of their advice having been ignored.

The other issue to be raised about the increases is whether or not they are excessive in Guyana's current economy. In a letter to President Bharrat Jagdeo, dated December 21, Corbin said any increase in emoluments of Ministers and MPs should take cognisance of the overall economic situation of the country and in particular the percentage increase recently paid to public servants and other categories of public employees. "The proposed increase for MPs, which is in excess of 100%, is unconscionable having regard to the paltry 5% recently paid to public servants," Corbin said in his letter. Instead, he was in favour of any saving in this regard to be put towards a scheme for payment of salaries to Regional Democratic Council (RDC) councillors. He said priority should be given to the payment of a reasonable stipend to members of the RDC, which should have a fair relationship to emoluments enjoyed by MPs. He suggested that the minimum monthly emoluments should be $20,000.

Corbin also said any salary increase for MPs should be part of a general scheme for regularizing the emoluments paid to elected officials, acknowledging the important role they play in the political governance institutions, like the Executive, the National Assembly and the local democratic organs. (Andre Haynes)

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