“Government gotta find a place fuh put me in, right. Government brought me from my home, not a house, I don’t live in a house, right. (…) I am a humble servant”.
This is how Junior Minister Simona Broomes justified the squandering of tax dollars to fund her G million annual rent allowance. Almost G million in monthly salary and other ministerial benefits, plus the usual ,000 monthly rent allowance, wasn’t enough for the Minister’s seemingly insatiable appetite for luxury. The Government residences at Echilibar Villas on Stone Avenue, Campbellville, Georgetown, must not have been up to her standards. Based on information received from some in the Minister’s previous neighbourhood, Broomes had allegedly taken up residence in Queenstown, Georgetown, at a monthly rent of less than G0,000, before requesting to be relocated to the mansion which placed her at the heart of her most recent scandal. But what does she know of humility when her annual rent is worth five times a cane cutter’s annual salary?
The justification she gave during her last press conference was a tedious expression of mediocrity during which she would have us almost believe that she was taken by force from her family to serve as Minister. A tearful caiman might have been more convincing than Broomes. The powers that be and all aspiring to take up leadership roles in Government, should be reminded that the choice to serve the people of Guyana is a personal one, requiring self-sacrifice whenever needed and throughout one’s political career.
Therefore, the Guyanese people owe those in the public service nothing more than their salaries. Yet, we’re forced to look at highfalutin Ministers pretend to be victims, to justify avarice and the wasteful expenses of our already limited resources. One should think that the Republic Bank robbers were scarcely anything much in comparison to the Government of Guyana when it comes to robbing the poor.
Upon simple examination, shifting the ministerial housing allowances from G,000 to G0,000/month (a 1900 per cent increase), equates to approximately G0 million/year for one Prime Minister, 13 Ministers, eight Junior Ministers and three Vice Presidents.
Similarly, with the salary increases accommodating the extravagant tastes of the regime, these 25 senior officials rake up an estimated G6,476,936 yearly (non-inclusive of presidential expenses, health insurance, travel expenses, per diem and other perks and benefits).
But the weight of the coalition’s rapacious penchants is ironically borne by the small woman and man who perform the back-breaking task or keeping the staggering economy alive. Our rural people, sugar workers included, make up the bulk of this population. Nevertheless, the hard work of those toiling the traditional income earning sectors is now being compensated by what can be described as deliberate State neglect and marginalisation. Sugar workers are the best representation of this inhumane, backward thinking.
After tens of millions were injected into the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Commission of Inquiry, the recommendations produced were literally ignored and the coalition pursued its malign quest to gut sugar workers.
As if this wasn’t enough, the APNU/AFC has decided to inject more tax dollars to further chastise sugar workers and force them into poverty. Finance Minister Winston Jordan during the last parliamentary sitting, requested G0 million to set up a “Special Purpose Unit” which will be tasked with selling off GuySuCo’s assets. He barefacedly informed the House that more funds will eventually be needed during the course of the year.
And to top it off, the Minister confirmed that 60 to 70 per cent of the funds are just for salaries of the Unit’s head, deputy head and legal advisers. It is yet to be revealed who these presumed professionals will be.
Do those who voted for change feel a pang of guilt nipping at them every now and again, when they come to terms with the fact that their votes and tax dollars are just as responsible as the Government of Guyana, in the horrendous persecution of sugar workers. Have we forgotten that the heart of Guyana lies beyond Georgetown, and that thousands of our rural people are on the verge of being jobless overnight?
Does no one ask why it is that when the world needs a steady supply of sugar, the Government prefers to invest our finances in the industry’s demise rather than its mechanisation?
When will we understand that Guyana is a primarily rural country and that if our rural people suffer, the nation cannot progress?