I write this letter to you to express my views on the recently announced seven per cent salary increase for public servants. Since the announcement was made, I observed the Opposition lashing out at the Government on social media for giving the workers seven per cent as their increase. I found many viewpoints from the Opposition members to be riddled with inaccuracies, all with the intent of attacking the Government.
I make reference to posts from Juretha Fernandes, Aubrey Norton and the APNU/AFC Facebook page along with other MPs like Sherod Duncan and Coretta McDonald to say that these people are not serving in the best interest of their constituents. Allow me to explain.
The entire Opposition has been criticising the 7 per cent increase saying that the Government is cruel to the public servants as they deserved a higher percentage increase. They continue to divert all their efforts into comparing this 7 per cent increase against that which they gave during their tenure.
Some of these very MPs even went further to say that the APNU/AFC not only gave sizable increases but also increased the minimum wage. However, I am not seeing a single one of these individuals highlight the fact that during their tenure, they were not dealing with the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are also very silent on the fact that even though they gave salary increases higher than 7 per cent, they also implemented hundreds of tax increase measures which placed additional pressure on the Guyanese people.
The reality was that during their tenure, even though the minimum wage was increased and salary increases were given, only a small number of the Guyanese people benefited as the majority of us were taxed to death by all the tax measures that were rolled out. The APNU/AFC placed VAT on electricity, water, education, health services and so much more and for this and other reasons they were voted out of office.
In just over a year of the PPP/C Government being in office, measures were rolled out in every single area that you can think of so as to bring relief to the people. This was all done even though the Government was dealing with the negative effects of the pandemic on the country. I think it is important for people to be aware that the Government has reversed most of the harsh tax measures that the coalition rolled out between 2015 to 2020.
In fact, Guyanese are now benefitting from tax-free water and electricity, one-off cash grants and even increases in old-age pension, public assistance, and the Because We Care grant. What the APNU/AFC is trying to do is get people to ignore these things and just focus on the 7 per cent increase. Their stance is that a higher increase should be given so that public servants would have greater monetary gains.
However, I want to ask the coalition this: Would you have preferred that the Government offer a double-digit increase and leave the tax measures like VAT on water, electricity, healthcare, education and so forth, unchanged? Would that have given you the satisfaction you’re looking for or would you have then sought to criticise the Government for offering the double-digit increase and not addressing the high taxes and not offering assistance in the other areas like education and healthcare?
This 7 per cent salary increase should not be looked at in isolation. Instead, it must be examined alongside all the other measures which the Government rolled out to reduce the burden on citizens and offer them more disposable income. I urge my fellow Guyanese to look at the bigger picture and not fall prey to APNU/AFC misdirection.
Respectfully yours,Brian Azore