National budget has been transforming the lives of public servants

─ govt has increased the minimum wage by over 50 percent

─ in 2015, the minimum wage was just under $40,000, today, it is $60,000

─ increasing wages depends on availability and sustainability of funds

─ more than 14,000 public servants benefited from a scaled increase in wages and salaries

DPI, GUYANA, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Over the last three years, public servants have received salary increases and other benefits.

Through three consecutive national budgets, the Coalition Government has introduced measures that would have transformed the lives of working people in Guyana. The administration has moved away from the previous policy of a fixed five percent increase across the board.

Over this period, the minimum wage went up by over 50 percent. In 2015, the minimum wage was just under $40,000. Today, it is $60,000.

More than 14,000 public servants also benefited from a scaled increase in wages and salaries with the lower salaries benefitting more. The scale ranged from eight to zero percent for workers on a salary scale of between $55,555 and $1Million.

Scaled salary increase introduced in 2017
8 % Persons earning between GYD$55,555 – GYD$99,999
6 % Persons earning between GYD$100,000 – GYD$299,999
5 % Persons earning between GYD$300,000 – GYD$499,999
4 % Persons earning between GYD$500,000 – GYD$699,999
2 % Persons earning between GYD$700,000 – GYD$799,000
½ % Persons earning between GYD$800,000 – GYD$1 million

There were also one-off bonuses paid out to public servants in the sum of $50,000 in 2015 and $25,000 in 2016. Teachers, invaluable public servants, were also the beneficiaries of these increases.

Following, these increases, today, the salary of an unqualified teacher is at $66,135, while teachers at various stages of training earn $100,886 to $108,362. A non-graduate senior teacher can earn $115,433 while a graduate can earn $161,801.

In the 2018 national budget, the government allocated 15.7 percent of its expenditure to the education sector, the largest budgetary allocation for the sector. That sum included leadership training for senior teachers, the development of a handbook for primary teachers and training of teachers in Region Eight.

Generally, the incentive package has inspired teachers to give of their best under conditions that still remain difficult. This, no doubt, was why the Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry applauded teachers for their service.

Other measures that are transforming the lives of the working people in Guyana included: 

  • Increase in the Income-tax threshold by a minimum 20 percent.
  • Marginal income tax rate reduced to 28 percent.
  • Old age pensions increased by 49 percent.
  • VAT reduced from 16 percent to 14 percent.
  • VAT threshold increased to $15M from $10M which exempt many small businesses.
  • Increase in the number and range of items that are exempted from VAT.
  • Minimum wage in the private sector increased from $202 to $225 per hour.
  • Re-constituted the public service appellate tribunal.
  • Implemented housing solutions that target low and middle-income households, including young professionals.
  • High-level task force established to fast-track salary negotiations for public school teachers.
  • Hourly rate paid to sweeper/cleaners increased by 54 percent.
  • Public servants to be trained professionally at the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service.
  • Critchlow Labour College subvention restored.
  • Microfinancing is made available for startup projects.
  • Youth entrepreneurial skills training through YEST, BIT, HEYS.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan had explained these measures increased the spending power of public servants by putting more money back in their pockets. However, the minister cautioned that increasing wages depends on the availability and sustainability of funds.

With hopes being high that revenues would increase when the oil and gas industry comes on stream, it is likely that increased wages for teachers and all other public servants would remain a high priority.

By: Tiffny Rhodius.

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