WITH year-end retroactive, tax-free salary increases, members of the Joint Services receive more money in the long term, People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Executive Member Aubrey Norton said as he rubbished claims that the Joint Services were better off receiving a one-off bonus.
“Under this APNU+AFC government, members of the Joint services can now look forward to a better life after retirement. Members of the Joint Services are now better off since they have higher salaries and as a result, will have higher pensions and other benefits,” Norton said during the PNCR’s weekly press conference at Congress Place on Friday.
“Salaries for junior ranks in the services have increased by more
than 60 per cent and all ranks have benefitted from significant increase
in wages and payments, and their take home pay is much more than what
it was under the PPP,” Norton told reporters.
The APNU+AFC Government earlier this month announced 8.5 – 9 percent pay increases for public servants, including those of the Joint Services, with all increases being tax-free and retroactive to January 1, 2019. The minimum wage was increased from $64,200 to $70,000.
Though it gave only between 5 and 8 per cent salary increases during
its tenure in government, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), led by
Bharat Jagdeo, is contending that the Joint services were better off
with just a “one-off” Christmas bonus in December.
“Under the PPP increases were lower, which meant that they would have been getting a smaller “bonus” because they were getting a much lower salary than they now receive. In the present situation they have a higher salary. Retroactive, tax-free money that is more than they would have ever received under the PPP,” Norton argued.
“The political hypocrites are now promising to restore the Joint services bonus. What the PPP conveniently failed to explain to members of the Joint Services was that when you get a bonus, your salaries do not go up and in the long term you will be worse off since your pension and other benefits do not go up with a bonus. Pensions and allowances only go up with increased wages and salaries. The PPP therefore conned the Joint Services and wants to continue their con game. We will not allow that to happen. Under the APNU+AFC the Joint services will continue to receive real increases in wages and salaries, allowances and better working conditions,” the PNCR executive member further added.
The “Christmas bonus” was given only to members of the joint services and not all public servants. Over the years, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has criticised the bonus, stressing that the PPP used the bonus as a means of dividing government employees. A point reiterated by Norton.
“What the PPP is calling a Joint service bonus, is a scheme that was devised by them to divide public servants by giving all of them low wages while giving a one-month salary increase to the joint services, so that they felt contented,” Norton posited.
“THE PNCR wishes to applaud President David Granger and the APNU+AFC for promoting and protecting the interest of the Guyanese worker and for eliminating the division that the PPP promoted among public servants. All workers are being treated equally under this government,” he added.
In addition to the tax-free, retroactive salary increases, there were also a number of increases in allowances for health sector workers. Station allowances will be increased by over 260 per cent from $2,800 to $10,000; hinterland allowances will be increased by between 100 per cent and 600 percent; risk allowance was increased by 900 percent from $500 to $5000; uniform allowance for health sector workers will be increased from $13,000 and $22,135 to $15,000 and $30,000; and on-call allowance for doctors will also be increased.
According to Norton, in addition to low salaries, the Joint Services were starved of resources.
“They were busy colluding with drug lords, criminalising the state and starving the same joint services of the training, resources and remuneration necessary to maintain law and order. The coalition government has reversed that trend. Our Joint Services are now better equipped, better trained and better paid to serve and protect the people of Guyana,” Norton said.
“In response to President David Granger and the APNU+AFC successes in every sector in the last four years, the PPP is promising all sorts of things that they cannot deliver because they are incompetent and corrupt and will squander Guyana’s resources rather than invest in the people and the development of our country. With a higher threshold and the reduction in personal income tax, our workers’ real wages and salaries have increased significantly. Guyanese know that Guyana is on the right path and they will therefore return president David Granger and the APNU+AFC to government in 2020,” Norton further said.