Georgetown, Guyana – (June 1, 2020) The Ministry of the Presidency condemns two letters penned by Ms. Gail Teixeira, titled, “Concede defeat and make an honourable retreat for the sake of Guyanese” and “Granger’s Administration has taken Guyana down a treacherous path” which were published in the May 30 and 21 editions of the Guyana Times respectively.
These letters contain several inaccuracies and misinformation.
• Ms. Teixeira claims that the Executive embarked upon “a series of acts that laid the basis for the whittling away of the constitutional and legal restraints on the President and the Government,” is a distortion of the facts.
The Ministry of the Presidency reminds Ms. Teixeira that President David Granger, on December 22, 2018, the day after the passage of the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, said the Government would abide by the stipulations which were imposed on it; that it would engage its Coalition partners and the Leader of the Opposition. The President committed also to doing everything necessary to facilitate the smooth functioning of General and Regional Elections bearing in mind the need for normal governmental functions to continue uninterrupted and in keeping with Article 106 (7) of the Constitution of Guyana.
The Government had a legal right to seek judicial clarification on the validity of the no-confidence vote and for it to interpret certain issues relating to the vote that are enshrined in the Constitution. These challenges were neither frivolous nor calculated to frustrate the implications of the no-confidence vote as is being alleged.
The Government never had as its objective to “whittle away” the Constitution. It has, at all times, operated within the confines of the Constitution and the rule of law.
• Ms. Teixeira’s claims that the Government has “dismissed 1,872 Amerindian Community Service Officers (CSOs) and those “aligned to the PPP/C” are lies.
Ms. Teixeira is aware that the PPP made no budgetary allocations for CSOs beyond April 2015.
A Cabinet decision dated March 18, 2015, approved the sum $234, 240,000 to provide a stipend for the CSOs from January to April 2015. The PPP made no provisions for the CSOs thereafter.
President Granger, in September 2015, initiated the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme. HEYS aimed at eliminating the gap in development between hinterland youth and those on the coast.
From its genesis to present, the Government has invested approximately $2.5 billion to provide educational, entrepreneurial, skill, technical and vocational training for hinterland youth, including the CSOs, so that they could obtain employment.
To date, 3,444 from 22o villages across all ten administrative regions have been trained and empowered with the financial and other resources to help them to enjoy a satisfactory standard of living and to add to their village economies.
In addition to the training, each youth received a stipend of $30,000 per month and a one-off grant of $50,000.
To date, the beneficiaries of the programme have established 3, 467 business in retail and distribution (1,015 businesses); crops and livestock (1,635 businesses) among others. The young business owners also benefit from financial stimulus grants to boost their respective businesses.
Youth were also given the opportunity to pursue training and access financial grants through another David Granger initiative - the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurship Development (SLED) programme. Youth entrepreneurs were able to access grants ranging from $3M to $20M, which in the medium term is expected to create about 200 jobs.
To date, over 160 youth from rural communities in West Demerara- Essequibo Islands (Region Three); Demerara-Mahaica (Region Five); East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) and Upper Demerara-Berbice) have benefited from the SLED programme. SLED has since been expanded to cater for youth in Bartica and Jawalla in Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven); Mabaruma, Barima-Waini (Region One) and Shulinab, (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine).
• Ms. Teixeira’s allegations that the Government has “terminated thousands of public servants for their ethnic and/or political affiliation and that it had introduced anti-working people tax measures, thereby increasing levels of poverty” are also fallacies.
President Granger, since 2015, has repeatedly noted the importance of a proficient Public Service for Guyana’s “economic prosperity, institutional stability, national security and social cohesion”.
The Administration, from 2015 to 2019, has implemented salary increases that have amounted to an overall 77 per cent increase in the minimum wage, which was $39,540 when it entered office.
During the Coalition’s first four years in office, Public servants benefited from more than 60 per cent increase in wages and salaries and more than 50 per cent increase in the minimum wage.
In 2018, the administration approved increases for all Public servants ranging from 0.5 per cent to 7 per cent, and presented a $300.7B budget for 2019, which reflected an increase of 12.6 per cent when compared with 2018.
In November 2019, the President announced tax free increases retroactive to January 2019, including, a nine per cent increase in wages and salary for Public servants earning less than $100,000 per month. Sweeper-cleaners in the Public Education System, who were often on the lowest rung of the salary scale, now receive the new minimum wage of $70,000. Public servants earning between $100,000 and under $ 1 million received an 8.5 per cent increase.
President Granger announced also increases in station allowances, which moved from $2,800 to $10,000, reflecting an increase of 260 per cent; hinterland allowances, which moved from between $4000 and $12,000 to $24,000, reflecting an increase from between 100 per cent to 600 per cent; risk allowance, from $500 to $5000, an increase of 900 per cent and uniform allowance for health sector workers, which increased from $13,000 and $22,135 to $15,000 and $30,000.
The Public Service Ministry, in November 2019 announced that Public servants hired during 2019 would also benefit from retroactive increases from the date of their assumption of duty.
Persons who were promoted would also benefit from the increases in accordance with their previous salaries from January 1, 2019 to the date of their promotion. The Ministry also committed to eliminating the normative three-month waiting period for new staff to access their salaries.
Further, the administration also reduced the personal income tax from 30 per cent to 27.5 per cent; increased the personal income tax allowance from $600,000 to $720,000 or 1/3 of the gross income, whichever is higher; removed income tax from the employee’s contribution given to the National Insurance Scheme and has given equal treatment to vocation allowance across the public and private sectors.
• Ms. Teixeira’s claim that the President “Gave himself and his Ministers 50-100% increases in salaries, benefits and allowances” is also false.
Had President Granger received an increase in salary, there would have been a corresponding increase in the pensions received by the three former Presidents – Bharat Jagdeo, Samuel Hinds and Donald Ramotar.
• Ms. Teixeira’s allegation that the administration “introduced anti-business tax measures” is also false. On the contrary, the Administration introduced several reforms and adjusted its policies, rules and regulations to ensure that the local investment climate is more favourable.
The Coalition Government has undertaken a comprehensive reform of the tax system and has reduced company tax for non-commercial companies from 30 per cent to 25 per cent; reduced the value-added tax (VAT) from 16 per cent to 14 per cent; increase the VAT threshold from $10 million to $15 million and implemented a special income tax rate of 25 per cent for small businesses, the latter of which is in addition to several other tax concessions available to small businesses. It has also increased the threshold for filing a property tax return from $0.5 million to $40 million; reduced the property tax rate on chargeable property; implemented exemptions from Customs Duty and Excise Tax and VAT on a range of capital equipment and other goods, among other measures.
• Ms. Teixeira’s claim that the administration “terminated 99 per cent of Guyana’s representatives at our Foreign Mission” or “terminated 99 per cent of all Permanent Secretaries”. The administration retained several of its representatives at foreign missions and other senior officers in the Public Service in keeping with a campaign promise not to retrench workers when it was elected to office.
Permanent Secretaries have worked in the Public Service over many years and, since 2015, several were promoted because of the skill and the institutional knowledge that they possess. They have also received training and other opportunities to enhance their competencies to better serve the public.
• Ms. Teixeira’s allegation that the administration, “Held up appointments of judges for almost a year in violation of the constitution” is disingenuous.
The alleged shortage of judges was not occasioned under the Granger administration, which inherited excessive delays in hearing civil and criminal matters, resulting in a crippling backlog of cases in all courts.
The life of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) expired on September 30, 2017. After almost two years, in June 2019, advances were being made to reconstitute the JSC after the Parliamentary Committee on Appointments agreed to a nominee, whose name was submitted by the Guyana Bar Association.
After the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the no-confidence motion case, the National Assembly was not reconvened, putting the process on indefinite hold.
The Opposition PPP stymied this process by refusing to participate in the work of the said Appointments Committee and significantly reduced the likelihood of this matter reaching the floor of National Assembly.