Public servants’ increase 10% is all Govt can afford − President

first_imgThe Guyana Government has made its final offer to Public Servants for 2016 and Head of State, David Granger is adamant the administration would like to proceed and make the payouts on its offer but remain engaged with the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) to have outstanding issues addressed in the coming year.The President made the disclosure on Thursday, when he appeared with local journalists on his weekly television programme, the “Public Interest” and addressed the offer to pay a 10 per cent salary increase to public servants earning less than $99,000.President Granger told the media that Government’s proposal “is as much as we could do as of the 1st September, and we intend to proceed with that.”He was asked to respond to the likely refusal of the proposal by the GPSU’s general council and the likelihood of government making an arbitrary award in the increase of public servants’ wages and salaries for 2016.“I am not saying that the public servants do not deserve more but we did everything that is possible,” the President stated.Qualifying his position, the President said the proposal is by no means, “unjust,” but rather “it is what is affordable at present.”President David GrangerBudget 2017He reminded too that government wanted to wrap-up the negotiations for this year, since it had to complete the 2017 Budget, which would have to reflect any increases for public servants.President Granger has already announced that the 2017 Budget will be presented on December 5, and that government is committed to remaining engaged with GPSU since there are still a number of demands to be addressed.“We entered negotiations in good faith and we haven’t discontinued negotiations but that is the final offer we put on the table because we had to prepare next year budget so we had to tidy up this business before the last quarter,” said Granger.He used the opportunity to also reflect on the economic context, within which the salary increases are being negotiated and made, namely, the falling international commodity prices which have been taking a toll on government revenues, in addition to the high levels of indebtedness.The President spoke of the billions that have had to be forked over from central government to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) as subsidies.According to the Head of State, GuySuCo is being bailed out to the tune of $10 billion annually and this is in addition to the problems being faced in the falling prices for sugar, gold and bauxite which represent some of Guyana’s main revenue earners.The President used too that in addition to the increases being asked for by public servants, government has been finding it difficult to channel sufficient funds to more social programmes such as health and education.Meanwhile, President Granger also used the occasion to respond to critics of the administration that have been responding to the announcement that only half of the 2016 allocations in the Budget have been spent.Attitude problemsAccording to President Granger, they (critics) “ought not to be afraid that there have been any malpractice,” since the explanations “are quite simple.”He pointed to the lack of ministerial planning units, the problems being experienced at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) and the third major problem being “attitude problems.”This, he said, will not be a problem in the coming year since mechanisms are being put in place to ensure that these kinks are ironed out.On the matter of the need for planning units, the President said when the new administration took Office in May 2015, the ministers found that the level of advice being proffered was not in keeping with that which was expected.“So many ministers who took over last year were not receiving the quality of advice on the plans that I feel, that we feel now, that they deserve to have.”He said it was this situation that led primarily to the decision to establish the ministerial planning units.Tender Board problemsGranger spoke too of the ability of government to process the numerous tenders. According to the President, “there is just too many requests for that board to handle.”He suggested that maybe what is needed is a bigger board or more regular meetings of the tender board—akin to what obtains in the sitting of night courts.“Those are two main problems, the absence of planning and the capability of the tender process,” according to Granger.The Head of State said too, “I would admit there is an attitude problem, too,” and sought to assure that this will be corrected by presenting the annual Budget ahead of the beginning of the financial year.He explained that what inherently happens when the Budget is presented in March, is that the monies do not become available until June, which eventually leads to the bottlenecks at the national tender board.According to Granger, presenting the Budget early will mean that no Permanent Secretary—the accounting officer for any ministry—will be able to say in January that the money is not available to begin executing programmes.“Lack of planning and lack of preparedness will not be an excuse because they will know in December what the allocations are,” he stated.last_img read more