Govt unreasonable for paying hefty rent for Ministers – WPA
Even as Government has removed itself from the rent fiasco involving payment of rent for two junior Ministers, coalition partner the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) has condemned the move saying it is “unreasonable”.
Government has already distanced itself from the debacle involving rent payment for Junior Natural Resources Minister Simona Broomes and Minister Valarie Patterson, saying it is a matter for Parliament and Clerk of the National Assembly.
On Tuesday the WPA, a junior member in the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition, said it is unreasonable that that kind of money is being spent in this fashion.
WPA Executive member, Dr David Hinds said what is sad about the situation is that the very Ministers already have many benefits awarded to them. That, he said, is “unconscionable and immoral”. Hinds said there is no reason why the Ministers should not pay their own rent.
“If somebody from Linden or Berbice gets a job in Georgetown, they have to find money to pay for their own housing, or travel back to their home. Why should there be a separate standard for Ministers?” he questioned.
Guyana Times was told that Finance Minister Winston Jordan had requested of the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Issacs that the cap on rent be reduced to $300,000. However, the WPA said that amount is still too much. Dr Hinds said it is difficult to talk about a particular figure, since persons in the Public Sector are continually feeling the economic squeeze. “What we know is that public servants in this country work for an average $100,000 (before tax); we understand that every time we come to talk about teachers and public servants salary we have to negotiate. Against that background a category of workers cannot be treated in that way. This is a matter of morality. How could you as governors say to the rest of the population, we cannot give you 10 per cent, how can you in all conscience turn around and pay a rent for $500,000?” he questioned.
Last Friday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the matter involving the payment of house rent for serving Ministers of Government is not addressed at the level of Cabinet, but Parliament.
In fact, he said such funds come from that budget of the National Assembly.
The issue of Parliament paying the rent for Minister Broomes came to light when she became the subject of a court action initiated by her former landlord, who had taken her to court for rent owed.
Regarding the availability of houses in Campbelville – Echillibar Villas, a Government community – Harmon said when the Government took office the properties there had been in a “rundown state”. Since then, he said Government has been spending large sums of money to rehabilitate and “as residences are rehabilitated, then persons are put into them”. He said there are a huge amount of persons in Government service who require Government housing, however, Government is unable to provide it.