President says
Government Not Happy With Paying ‘Super Salaries’ -
- Complying with international organisation requirement
Guyana Chronicle
April 4, 2004

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(GINA) - PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo said Friday that he is not satisfied with paying super salaries to state employees, even though the government gets value for money in some cases.

The president said the government does not willingly pay these salaries, which range in thousands of US dollars per month, but is required to do so for projects funded by loans from the international organisations.

“I have a huge problem with this issue too. In many cases, it is a requirement of international funding. For example, DFID said they would help in the water sector, but their help would come in the form of a management contract. The management contract has a few people, but if you look at how much we are paying, it probably works out to much more than US$15,000 per month. But the requirement was that if we wanted the British assistance, then we had to go for a management contract. We then went to tender and chose the best company,” the President said at a news conference Friday.

He noted that this is happening in Guyana with several other programmes, including the implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper executed through a Unit at the Office of the President.

Expressing his view on whether or not Government is getting value for its money when these large salaries are paid President Jagdeo said, “I think in many cases yes, and in some case no”.

The President noted that consultants attached to projects funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are highly paid also. He said that in some cases, this has its rewards, as they are tasked with ensuring that Guyana meets the criteria so that the country can benefit from assistance. Failure to meet the requirement results in the country paying huge penalty fees which could be about US$200,000 per annum.

In 2002, Guyana obtained US$417M from the IDB; in 2003, US$38M; and this year, Guyana is hoping to have US$60million. The country case is helped by the staffers, and, in instances such as these, the country realises value for its money.

“But there are some cases where we do not get value for money. I have some problems with some of these places. One of the areas has been the water sector,” the President said.

Consequently, Government has requested some changes, and the company has done so with its management personnel, but “we are still a little dissatisfied with performance because even until now they have not sorted out the billing system. And you cannot complain that you do not have revenue when you have collectables out there: you are in charge and you are not collecting the resources”.

However, President Jagdeo noted that the super salaries are not paid from the state revenue and neither are they paid to any politicians under the PPP/C Government.

“If you examine who receives these salaries, all of the salaries paid in US dollars are not from the State Treasury. And I don’t think you would find any politicians on the list,” he said, adding that that was not so under the former regime when Cedric Grant was paid US$15,000 per month in 1991, a period during which the Army’s Capital Budget was US$3,000. At that time the exchange rate was $126 to US$1. Grant held the position as Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Affairs and was paid out of the treasury.