Budget 2023 caters to teachers’ salary increase – Jagdeo

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo speaking with reporters

While explicit mention of wages and salary increases for teachers was not made during Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh’s budget speech last week, assurances are being given that money has been set aside to cater to teachers.

Giving this assurance was Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, during a recently broadcast interview. He responded to some of the criticisms of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), including the ones regarding teachers.

“APNU put $94 billion to be spent on education and no wages and salaries announcement for teachers. But in the budget, we’ve budgeted for wages and salaries in 2023. Just that the announcement won’t be made now, it is done at the end of the year,” Jagdeo said.

In fact, Jagdeo noted that the APNU and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, by putting out this statement, are acknowledging the amount of money being invested into the education sector. He also pointed out that successive People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Governments have invested large sums into public service workers.

“He (Norton) said very little for the workers of this country. But we have budgeted $107 billion for employment costs in the public sector. $107 billion will go into people’s pockets, of the $781 billion, as wages and salaries. And the funny thing is, if you compare 2014, the last year the PPP was in office, and 2019, the last year they produced a budget, they had five years. Five budgets.”

“The employment costs, that is wages and salaries for public servants, grew by $27 billion in that period. And in the first three years of the PPP… guess how much the wages and salaries increased by. $38 billion. You had five years and the total employment cost grew by $27 billion. And in the first three years, our employment costs grew by $38 billion. And he says nothing for workers.”

With this in mind, Jagdeo pointed out that the PPP/C Government has increased wages and salaries by almost $11 billion more in just their third year in office, than what the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) provided between 2015 and 2019. But additionally, the Vice President emphasised that providing benefits to the people is about more than money. It’s about creating sustainable development.

“(Norton) has a philosophy we need to move this country away from. A hand-to-mouth philosophy. That’s how APNU runs the affairs of their party and they believe they can run the country that way. You will never accumulate anything if you manage a country that way. You’ll never own a house, you’ll always rent.”

“You’ll never own a business, own a car, or anything else. About 11 new hospitals will start this year. That has an impact on people’s healthcare. We can’t eat every cent out. But that’s what they seem to want,” Jagdeo said.

Last year November, the Government announced an eight per cent salary increase for all public servants, retroactive to January 1, 2022. This salary increase included teachers, as well as members of the Disciplined Services, constitutional officeholders, and Government pensioners.

Since coming into office in 2020, the PPP/C Government has implemented a number of initiatives towards improving the livelihoods of Guyanese, including public servants, in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the real impacts of climate change.

This includes the $25,000 COVID-19 cash grant per household in 2020; a $400 million special payout in 2021 to health workers on the COVID-19 frontline; and two tranches of one-off grants to old age pensioners – $25,000 in August 2021 and $28,000 in October 2022 – among others.

In 2021, a seven per cent salary increase was implemented which benefited more than 50,000 public servants, teachers, members of the Disciplined Services, and Government pensioners. That retroactive increase coupled with the substantive December 2021 salaries and pensions amounted to a whopping $10.5 billion.