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‘We still have announcements to make’- President as he pleads for acceptance of 7% increase

President Irfaan Ali on Friday morning pleaded with the Workers’ unions and public servants to accept the salary increase of 7%, even as he noted that there are still announcements to be made by the Government.

He alluded to the salary increase along with the $400M set aside for frontline workers at the end of this year, noting that “We’re still not at the end of this year…and we still have announcements to make.”

On November 18, Senior minister with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh announced that public servants will receive a retroactive salary increase of 7% which will be paid to eligible employees together with their December salary and in time for the festive Christmas season.

However, there was an outcry from many who said the sum is lower than expected from the Government which reportedly promised a 50% increase in its 2020 elections manifesto.

Dr. Ali on Friday said “this is only our first year and I will show you what we have done and all our commitments in the manifesto will be met, mark my words this morning.”

Further, he outlined several measures which have been taken since the PPP/C administration was elected to office in August 2020 to reverse increases in taxes, and restore cash grants while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting difficulties.

“Our focus is on strengthening your disposable income, giving to you, giving back to your families, enhancing your welfare, improving your livelihood…in a comprehensive way, we have outdone most of the entire globe,” he said.

To the workers’ union, the President urged them to consider the realities which exist due to the ongoing pandemic.

“I appeal to the unions to take off their political hats and put on the hat of reality, the hat of fairness, and in a comprehensive way, they too should applaud the government. I have spoken to many public servants who are fully onboard,” Dr. Ali said in this address broadcasted on social media.

His comments come on the heels of criticisms from bodies including the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) that have been demanding a higher increase. The President emphasised that the disapproval displayed by the unions is grounded in nothing more than gaining political points.

Against this backdrop he articulated, “when you have persons driven by an agenda, they try to distort the facts, they try to distort the truth and they try to manipulate information… I say to all of those in the public service, and all of the workers in this country, do not be distracted.”

Further, the President recalled too, that the former Government committed to an annual 10 per cent increase for public servants. Not only did the APNU+AFC failed to deliver on its promise, but the party also increased the salaries of Ministers by 50 per cent.

“If you look at the increase that the APNU+AFC would have given, the total value of that increase paid in 2015 was $917.3 million. In 2015, the total value of the increase was $917.3 million. When you take out the PAYE that the APNU+AFC government took back from the salary increase, it was approximately $222.1 million being taken back. So, the net gained for the workers was $696.2 million, which is far less than a five percent in a net sense,” the President explained

Going forward, Dr. Ali gave his unreserved pledge to continue to positively develop Guyana.

“Your President would ensure that all of you, all of us are part of the strengthening, deepening, widening of democracy, freedom, prosperity and the ability to live a life that is full here in Guyana.”