When the Government awarded its highest members (and that’ll be Presidents, Vice Presidents and Ministers – senior and junior) a 50% increase on their salaries – which ranged from $2 million to $573,000/month – they were forced to offer some explanations. Especially when the salaries were just the TIP of a very large iceberg – duty-free SUVs; travel allowance (first class – including spouses); housing, entertainment, phone, electricity and every other allowance you can conceive.
There were several reasons proffered. One was these folks had to leave “lucrative” jobs and so had to be appropriately compensated. Another was the workload was so onerous. But the most intriguing one came from Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency (MSMP), Lt Col Joseph Harmon. He allowed that the Executive had to be protected from temptation to stray from the straight and narrow.
Unlike many others, your Eyewitness was actually pleased with Mr Harmon’s candour. Your Eyewitness, humble as he is, never really bought into Dr Jagan’s proposition that experts should volunteer their services to Government at $1/year. While man may not live by bread alone – the bread (as in money) – does go a long way to alleviate the tribulations of the human condition. Man ought to be spared from temptation: why else the plea would be inserted into the Lord’s Prayer? (“Lead us not into temptation”, for you heathens reading this!)
So your Eyewitness was especially intrigued by the Top Cop exhorting the 295 newest Police recruits to “live within their salary” and their parents should help them not stray from the path of rectitude. Now the Top Cop wasn’t just making a theoretically grounded plea to the young men and women arrayed in front of him. He was reacting to the widespread CONVICTION in most citizens that MOST cops are corrupt.
In fact, even as he spoke, the TOP COP had just brushed off accusations from a confessed drug trafficker that he dealt with crooked cops every day in his business. So your Eyewitness wondered if Ministers had to be saved from temptation at their minimum $573,000/month salary…of what mettle was these new Police recruits made of that they didn’t need to be topped up to save them from temptation with salaries of $61,000/month??
And what made the situation for Policemen worse is in the Manifesto of those now in government, they’d promised Policemen 20% increases…but then begged off because “there isn’t money in the till”. This excuse is wearing a bit thin, isn’t it?
If $300 million is being spent on Jubilee, why can’t something be found for our guardians against anarchy?
…and power compensation
One of the corrupt practices poorly paid persons in positions of power or authority revert to is to not necessarily just shaking down citizens “for a fried rice” or worse…but to literally shake them down, physically. So at one end of the spectrum, you have the aforementioned Police bark at, rather than talk to, you if your taillight’s on the fritz. Or even if it’s not on the fritz.
And at the other end, we get what just happened at two interior communities, Lethem and Hosororo. There, GDF soldiers – also poorly paid – get off by throwing their weight around on the poor “natives”. And let’s face it – that’s how they’ve seen the Amerindian villagers ever since 1969 when a rebellion in the Rupununi was violently put down. Followed by years of “reprisals”.
In both instances, inebriated soldiers molested – and are accused of even raping – villagers after breaking down their doors. This will not do.
Whatever may be the reality of low wages, citizens of this country cannot be seen as compensatory loot.
…and and its source
Of the 350,000 jobs in Guyana – almost half are employed – directly and indirectly – by the State. So with the economy going belly up, who’s going to pay who?