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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Budget Speech Mr Basil Williams- 2012

Hits: 3449 | Published Date: 13 Apr, 2012
| Speech delivered at: 10th Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Basil Williams, MP

April 13, 2012
Mr. B. Williams: Thank you Mr. Speaker, as it pleases you, for those salutations. I too join in welcoming the emergent Members of Parliament. I trust and I am sure that their contributions would enrich the debate in this House and therefore advance the interest of the people of this nation. I know that they have had a rough initiation, especially in light of this budget, and how our honourable colleagues on the eastern side of the House have been behaving when certain truths are exposed in this honourable House. I should warn them that that behaviour is going to continue, but it is all, I would say, in good faith.
I would also like to welcome the Hon. Member Dr. Dale Bisnauth who was in fact the Minister of Labour who I shadowed for several years in this House. A gentleman of the highest order, no less so is the lady, Dr. Faith Harding - the lady of the highest quality. We welcome you both.
For not of a few years, we have been hearing this lamentation that we need to work together in the interest of developing Guyana; we hear it every year. The same lip service is paid to it but there has never been any meaningful engagement between the parties where the only issue on the table is looking to work together, whether we are sharing Government or whether we have wanted to cooperate on issues affecting the people of Guyana. I recall the former President saying that we have to learn to build trust, that was about eight years ago.  Perhaps a question should be asked of the Hon. Members of the Government side  on how far they have gone and how are they going to rate where we are at right now in trust building.
Speaking for myself, I believe we, on this side of the House, have always been willing to engage the Government with bona fides in order to effect the transformation that this country requires. The Hon. Member Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, I concur in the sentiments that he has expressed on this same subject matter, but it is not too late.
The Hon. Member Mr. Whittaker told us yesterday, in terms of fiscal transfers of the various regions in this country, that everybody cannot get everything. I think that is a misnomer. We understand that. But what we do not understand and what we cannot appreciate is any treatment that reeks of discrimination in making fiscal transfers to the regions. We have noted consistently over the years that certain regions which the Government might consider to be favourable to it, in respective of their size…, as Region 1, for example, in this budget, has over $600 million allocated to it, whereas Region  4, which has the brunt of the population of Guyana, has $200 million. I do not know how it is going to explain that kind of disparity.
I have my reasons for the disparity, but perhaps they will address that.      [Mr. Neendkumar: I see why you have gotten so low votes.]      The braying has started, but I would not be distracted.  Equally Linden and Region No. 7, they have all been given small portions of the national patrimony. We are saying that we must have objective criteria for making these fiscal transfers. We have been [inaudible] over the last decade with this Government which has been intransigent. It dilated on this matter; it is not interested in it, so that it could keep arbitrarily allocating moneys that are in disproportion to the people that they supposes to be spent one.
I do not agree with the Hon. Member Mr. Whittaker that he is helpless in this matter. It is something which can be done. It is something that could be corrected and he could have an objective approach to it. Then we were told that it is the PPP Government built the first secondary school in the Hinterland and dorms for the students      [Ms. Teixeira: He did not say that.]     That is what was conveyed yesterday. I believe that I have a memory like an elephant and if you want to challenge it, let us go. But I am saying to you and this honourable House that the People’s National Congress Reform had open up the Hinterland. We built schools; we built hospital complexes; we built health centres and we trained medexes. We started training our Amerindian brothers and sisters so that they could have serviced the areas. All the Government is doing is that it is just following a blueprint.  It is following our blueprint and we are not sure that it is doing it in the proper way. The votes have reflected the views of the people of the Hinterland, the Guyanese people of the Hinterland, as to how the Government is dealing with them.
Then the Hon. Member Dr. Nanda Gopaul said that jobs could be had at anytime. When the students leave the University of Guyana, secondary schools and other institutions of learning they will obtain jobs, but that is a grave misstatement as to the employment state in Guyana. We know that all employment is massive, especially impacting the youths of this country.  I do not know where Dr. Gopaul got that from.  In 2002, a census showed that thirty-eight thousand Guyanese were unemployed and then another census, a Household Budget Survey, in 2006, showed that it was twenty-eight thousand. Now that was before the crisis in the world, in the global market. So we must add on more persons who would have been added to the unemployment market. It is not true to say that employment has been solved by this Government. It is not. This Government has failed miserably to provide jobs for the people of this country. I am saying that it does not come and tell us anything about a wages policy; it does not come and tell us anything about a manpower survey; it does not tell us anything about the unemployment rate. Check it. It is nowhere in the Minister of Finance’s speech in this honourable House.  It does not do it because it cannot. So that is what we had wanted to clear up before I move to my remit.
The first aspect that I would treat with is our justice system, shadowing the Minister of Legal Affairs, as it were, and the Attorney General. It is sad to say a quality justice system is not a priority of this Government. Our justice system is beset by shortages of judicial personnel, inordinate delays in criminal and civil trials, archaic courtrooms and inadequate facilities. Many of its branches, including the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, need to be retooled and rendered fit for purpose. Notwithstanding these provisos, the Hon. Minister of Finance deigned to tell us at page 53, paragraph 4.121, of the speech, and I quote:
“The modernisation of our laws, systems and facilities that support the effective functioning of our judiciary continues to take precedence in the Government’s developmental agenda.”
The principal objective of all judicial systems ought to be a perfect delivery of justice to the people who will in turn embrace it. The High Court requires a complement of fifteen judges; instead it has nine plus the Chief Justice. There is no judge in the Family Court. The criminal session currently has listed two hundred and thirty-four cases before two judges - a physical impossibility. This area needs at least two additional judges in order to clear that backlog.
The Court of Appeal is a similar story. Instead of five Court of Appeal judges plus the Chancellor and the Chief Justice, there is presently two plus the latter two. That is where we are. This is wholly unacceptable and shows a palpable lack of political will on the part of the Government which is also unconcerned about the two highest rank judges acting for years.
Our court rules must be modernised. Certainly, the courts in the criminal session in which jury trials are conducted, in serious criminal matters, should be equipped with computers, tape recorders and microphones, in addition to audio visual facilities. Presently, only the Chief Justice’s court and the Court of Appeal have audio visual equipment. Our judges should  be able to look at and observe witnesses as they give evidence so that they could determine the veracity of the witnesses; their perceived credibility, so that they could observe them in the manner in which they give the evidence -  how long they will take to answer a question. But instead, the judges have to spend much of  their time writing notes as witnesses speak; bowing their heads down and unable to look, at the same time, at the witnesses in order to glean what is, or not, correct.
The Chamber of the Director of Public Prosecutions, also, appears to have lost its way. It must regain its focus. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) holds a high constitutional office with the requisite security of tenure. The DPP must exercise her discretion in initiating prosecutions judiciously. When she gets it wrong lives are destroyed forever, and compensation is not forthcoming. The DPP’s Chamber must adopt the best practices. It cannot harbour within its curtilage lawyers in private practice. This will engender the anomalous situation where a lawyer representing accused persons could access the evidence of his clients in the DPP’s Chamber. This could further leads to his clients’ charges been inexplicably withdrawn or given plea bargains to the disadvantage of their co-accused. Justice must be seen to be done.
A family member who instigates a serious criminal charge against persons must not be able to get a fiat from the Director of Public Prosecutions to be given to another family member to prosecute the persons that he or she has instigated the charges against. This is a non sequitur as we say in the language of the law. So the DPP has the challenge to restore the confidence of the Guyanese people in that office. The Chamber must increase its complement of lawyers and retain them in order to deliver justice to the Guyanese people. In order to retain them, they have to be remunerated properly; they have to be provided with the conditions and remunerated packages that will cause them to stay in the department. But, as I said, Mr. Speaker, we cannot have private practitioners wanting to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds because that will lead to grave injustice.  We tend to think that these things cannot affect us, even those in the Government but they will be surprised. Many of them, in fact, should not be surprised if they find that the DPP has centred her attention on them for whatever reason. So they will need safeguard, just like the ordinary Guyanese persons in the street. So I think  they  should harkened on to me and listen carefully and use their good offices to ensure that in the event they happen to pass that way, as the Commissioner of Police, Henry Greene, for example, they would have justice.
The Hon. Minister of Finance, at page 53, paragraph 4.123, posited: “In 2012, amounts totaling $2.1 billion are budgeted for this sector.”  I close my quotation. To be exact, this is the final year of the Government of Guyana Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Justice Reform Strategy Programme and a sum of money budgeted this year is $500 million. This will make a grand total of $2,103,264,000 which is spent over a four-year period. So we are really at the end of that period. It must be one of the great mysteries of all time that so much money could have been spent with nothing to show for it. Our justice system is broken. After $2 billion is spent, I enjoin the Hon. Attorney General to show us what value for money we have after all that spending. Do not come and tell me about the law was revised from 1976 to the present and that we have law reports, because I know all that is there are sample law reports, and until the expert from London is brought back so that he can get on with his business and produce the reports, nothing will be done. It is a clear case of no value for money which is spent.
We must make our justice system efficacious. One sure manifestation that would be guaranteed to every person coming into contact with the system is due process. As you know, the Americans like that term. Every American understands that term “due process”. In Guyana, it means a fair hearing within a reasonable time before an impartial tribunal. My honourable  sister and Member, Mdm. Priya Manickchand, when she spoke, reminded me with her contact with the system when the Hon. Member filed a motion to the High Court stating that there must be no criminal trial in this country unless it is done in chronological order of committal. I am reminded of that. What was the effect of that? The effect of that was that my learned friend contended that Mr. Benschop case cannot be accelerated. That Mr. Benschop has committed, after so many other phantom committals…As a result, the order made caused Mr. Benschop, who had no evidence against him, to stay in prison for five years. When the matter went to the Court of Appeal it was promptly overturned. After Mr. Benschop was dubiously released, suddenly the case was overturned so that no other person now would be affected by the chronological orders of sequencing. I am saying that we must not manipulate the justice system in a manner because we are in a position to do it.
We must avoid trial by ambush. What does this mean? It means that a man who is charged with criminal offences in the year 2006, based on a certain factual matrix, must be certain and have a reasonable legitimate expectation that whenever this slothful system decides to bring his case for hearing he would be confronted by that same matrix.
He must not be presented with an entirely different set of facts against him six years later. In other words, one is trying him by ambush. I enjoin the Judges of this country to use their offices to prevent things like these from happening. It cannot be fair for one to rework an entirely new case to bring it up to the high court before judge and jury and say that that is a fair trial. When, in fact, if there is going to be fresh evidence, the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) needs to be reopened and sent for testing before the magistrate. One cannot come and anguish a man who has been languishing in jail for years with a brand new case. And that is the nature of our justice system. It is broken.     [Mr. Neendkumar: Basil.]    It is not me who said that; a Hon. Judge of the Supreme Court said that.      [Mr. Neendkumar: You wanted the man to stay in jail longer.]      I do not have to benefit from that. I benefit from my skills. We must ensure a proper jury system. [Mr. Rohee: You are getting economical benefits from it.]     The Hon. Minister of Home Affairs is trying to distract me. We must ensure a proper jury system in this country. It is the only protection against the excesses of the state. The ordinary Guyanese man has no protection; this Government affords him no protection. He gets picked up and locked up for 72 hours without any reasonable suspicion that he committed an offence or was about to commit an offence – 72 hours! The Government uses its power in such an abusive manner so that when mothers send their sons out on the road to the grocery stores, to run an errand, to buy water and bread, they do not see their sons back. And then they have to look in the police stations. The mothers are told they are put in the East Coast lock-ups and when the mothers go there, they are told that their sons are on the West Coast; they are dodged all around. If the boys are beaten up and there is evidence of beating and burning, the mothers have to go and look for Basil Williams to get them back.     [Member: What is the fee?]       It is pro bono most of the time. It is a serious matter. And I am only one man. My brothers and my colleagues too are in the act. The fact of the matter is that we must not abuse the laws of this country because we abuse the Guyanese people when we do that. And there are mothers looking for their children and cannot find them. They were picked up right outside here at Stabroek Market in front of St. Andrews Church. He was never ever seen again. An application was filed to the High Court for habeas corpus and the Deputy Commissioner, as he then was, Henry Greene, went into the witness box and he could not have told us where this young Guyanese boy was.      [Mr. Nandlall: Could Mr. Felix not tell you?]      He was Crime Chief. I am saying that young France Britain Wills, the late great Fred Wilson, was also taken into custody by police and was never ever seen again. And the Government comes lecturing to us in this House about justice -lecturing to us about justice? Superintendant Fraser, as he then was, turned up in Court and said that he released the man from Dragon’s Squad. He acknowledged that the man was retained but they had released him and the understanding was that he was going to Suriname. Imagine that! That is the nature of the justice system that we have. They beat up a young man - habeas corpus file. They ran to the Court to bring extensions because they could not have taken the man to Court. We insisted and went up to Justice Jainarine Singh. The man came in an open back vehicle – laid prostrate. He could not go up to the High Court. That is the nature of our justice system and we have to make it right! We intend to make it right because the people voted for it to be made right. The jury system is what we will rely on to protect the Guyanese people against shoddy investigations, malicious prosecutions and to guarantee them what Article 144 of our Constitution provides for- a fair hearing.
I am emphasising the importance of the jury system because I recall that I had cause to obtain a stay of trial of a murder case after it was discovered that six of the jurors who were in the panel in the jury of 12, came from the same workplace. Chief Justice, as she then was, Mdm. Desiree Bernard, was so appalled that the entire criminal sessions were halted and she ordered that a total review of the jury list be done. And for one to do that the jury list is compiled from the current voter’s list and the names of the jurors have to be published in every police station as well as the magistrate’s courts so that citizens could go and look at the list and determine whether the people are dead or alive.
We cannot gainsay the importance of an effectively functioning judicial system and justice system in Guyana. I urge that this is something that we should have a joint collaboration on; that we get on with it and look at it in a bipartisan manner so that we can make our system one of justice and the judiciary of this country.
Let me turn my attention to the other parts of my remit: the Ministry of Public Service and the Ministry of Labour. I recall someone in this House being described as having changed as soon as he came amongst us. That jogged my memory. I recall years ago myself as a young lawyer returning home, given a high office Legal Assistant to the President- I was stopped on the road by a very young trade unionist – I think he is older than I am – and he said this, “Basil, you worked out this thing.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You worked out your route. I love how you worked out that route to reach the Office of the President.” I really did not consciously work out any route, but if he were telling me that then I said okay and moved off. Years later that young man also ended up at the Office of the President and he had the handle and style of a doctor – Dr. Nanda Gopaul. I inspired him to reach to the Office of the President. And Dr. Gopaul so loved what we did at the Office of the President that when he got in there he also put in a young lawyer to work within the Office of the President with him. I was surprised at how this nice, young trade unionist changed after he got inside the Government’s Office of the President. He transformed and that is the effect that this Government has on, hitherto, good people. I do not know what he is doing. He is making all kinds of statements which are so out of character, having being in the Office of the President. He said something to the effect that only certain people could work at the New Building Society Limited (NBS). He came in this Hon. House and said, “I came to be reasonable but when I saw the unreasonableness on that side, I decided that I am not going to be reasonable anymore.” I do not understand that. That is not the man that I knew. I am prepared to give him a chance because even in the short space of time that he is out as a Minister, he had to come out from in there so that he could shine. Even in the short space of time he has done better than Minister Nadir in all those years he was there. We had to bring a no-confidence motion against Mr. Nadir. Thankfully, he had the majority on that side, but you might not be so lucky if one comes now.
This Budget is not friendly to the Guyanese people but it is in consonance with previous People’s progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) efforts. They are loathes to invest in the Guyanese people, hence the dual travesties of illusory increases in old age pension and public assistance. This Government continues to degrade our senior citizens. We, therefore, have a fait accompli- yet another brick and concrete budget. That is the focus of this Government and it has always been.
Permit me therefore to focus on a particular group of Guyanese that this Government has always manifested a seemingly malevolent attitude towards, the public servants- nurses, teachers, policemen, soldiers, firemen and civil servants.
At page 12 of his Budget presentation, the Hon. Minister of Finance, under the misnomer caption Developments in Wages, omitted any reference, whatsoever, to increases in wages and salaries for our public servants. The Minister has not stated, in this Hon. House, that there will be increases in wages for public servants. This means that if the Government has its way, these workers will be condemned to a life of poverty and destitution. Our public servants have enjoyed no real increases in their incomes for well over a decade and have been given 5% annual increase or thereabouts every year for the last decade. Last year’s increase of 8% in wages and salaries for public servants can now be seen in its true light. It was an election tactic which did not bear fruit. As a result, the Government did not find it convenient to declare any increases for the public servants this year. In other words, punish them.
The Government did the same thing when the Lindeners voted overwhelmingly against it. It invested heavily in Linden and did not get what it wanted. The Government wants to punish the Lindeners so it proposed to remove the electricity subsidy. The Government has come with all kinds of spinners - Naresh Narine. All the spinners have come to try to justify that ignominy.
The time has come to stop the suffering of public servants. The following measures will ensure a living wage:
1. A 20% increase in wages and salaries;
2. A reduction of income tax to 25%;
3. An increase in the income tax threshold to $60,000; and
4. A reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) to 10%.
This will ensure that the Guyanese public servants – our nurses, our policemen, our teachers – will be paid a living wage.
In addition, there is a pressing need for the Government to pay increases in allowances to public servants - travelling, subsistence, uniform and housing - which have not been paid since 1995. And this is, despite the judgement and ruling in the Armstrong arbitration which spoke to the need for increments to be paid as early as 1999. The Government has steadfastly refused and starve the public servants of these increments.
The failure to pay these increments affects the public servants in that it creates a condition called “bunching” wherein new entrants to the public service are paid the same salary as those workers who were employed for many years, even as much as 20 years. Bunching leads to lack of morale, indiscipline, and disrespect.
The Government has always, in the last decade, had money to pay the public servants a living wage, and had made provision in budgets, but never paid it. The same is true of this Budget. Notwithstanding the Hon. Minister of Finance never mentioning that he has made provision in this Budget, this is what was discovered. The sum budgeted for Employment Costs, for example, is, in 2012, approximately $107 billion. The Government spent approximately $92 billion last year and that was a revised figure because it had budgeted $87 billion. What does this mean? This means that this sum of $107 billion is about $14 billion more than last year’s provision. In other words, even under the head of Employment Costs, there is enough money to pay a proper increase in wages and salaries for the public servants.
Let me reinforce it. The Minister of Labour, unlike the Minister of Finance, the Hon. Dr. Nanda Gopaul confirmed yesterday that the Budget caters for additional increases so that the workers can get something. I am quoting him verbatim. Why is it that the Minister, the Hon. Member, Dr. Ashni Singh, did not say that?
I respectfully submit that public servants are entitled to be paid a living wage and the additional $14 billion is more than adequate for that purpose.
We must factor in the head, Revenue Target for Central Government. This year, that target is approximately $146,863,000,000. That is the revenue that the Government targets to receive this year. Last year, it was approximately $120 billion was targeted. So what we are having here now is that the Government expects to add an approximate additional $25 billion, this year, to scoff us. Is that not more than adequate to pay a living wage to our public servants?
These statistics show that the Government expects to garner these taxes this year and when one looks at the revision of wages and salaries provision, for this year it provides approximately $3,741,000,000. Last year it was approximately $3,456,000,000 and in 2010 it was approximately $2,438,000,000. What is clear is that when one extrapolates and if the Government is saying that it is putting up around $4 billion for revision increases in wages or salaries, it expects to make $25 billion more in revenues and then employment costs is $14 billion more, even if the it has some provision in the $14 billion for new employment, there still is a lot of money to make the public service right. Hon. Member, you still have enough money to make the public service right and I know that you will do just that.
In spite of the Hon. Member’s silence on increases for public servants, his Budget makes more than adequate provision. Less than $4 billion out of a sum of $25 billion is more than adequate. Perhaps, the Hon. Member awaits the shout of “eureka” as a precondition to the workers’ accessing those provisions for increases in wages and salaries.
Contract Employees
Some years ago, I blew the whistle on this device to undermine the traditional public service, namely the introduction of a class of public servants called “contract employees”. The Minister, at the time, the Hon. Dale Bisnauth, who is here with us, said it was only a temporary situation since the Public Service Commission (PSC) could not be constituted due to political gridlock that was around at that time. However, this position did not change after the reconstituting of the Public Service Commission but, in fact, it mushroomed. It soon became clear that the Government was intent on creating a parallel public service to emasculate the traditional public service and to reduce the effectiveness of the Guyana Public Service Union and the Public Service Commission.
In this year’s Budget, the wages bill for contracted employees is approximately $6 billion. In 2004, it was $ 1.3 billion. In 2005, it was $1.7 billion.
In the Supreme Court, alone, there are 83 contracted employees and in the Deeds Registry are 16 contracted employees. In other words, instead of employing public servants on the traditional establishment, these contracted employees are created and they really include a lot of “PPP-types”. In all of those cases, even though the contracted employees do the same work as the public servants on the traditional establishment, they are paid far more than the traditional public servants. And then every two years they get contract gratuity, but what they do not have is security of tenure. What is happening now is that the new public servants are not being employed. There is a ban on employing new public servants on Bands 1 and 2 in the traditional public service. So no new public servants can be employed by the PSC. Public servants are being employed on one-year contracts. So what are we doing? We are building up an army of contracted employees who have no security of tenure and, therefore, serve at the pleasure of this Government- they serve at the whims and fancies of this Government. If the Government tells them to jump...     [Ms. Selman: How high?]     It is not even “How high?” And this is disconcerting because any proper country must have a proper public service to serve this nation. We have a public service being created that could be manipulated and it is a dangerous thing. The Government is happy with this situation, as it has always been the PPP/C’s long time objective of dismantling what it perceives to be a PNCR constituency. It believes that. So we are proposing that an end be put to contract employees. We are proposing that all contracted employees be assimilated into the traditional public service establishment and that they operate on the various bands on the scales that pertain in that system and that persons who work in the public service for years will not feel that they are not moving when new persons come in and that they are paid the same sums like them. We must prevent bunching and we propose that the Government undertakes this immediately.
One might notice that I have not treated with RUSAL, but an action has been filed in the High Court to halt the arbitration that had been initiated by the Hon. Member, Dr. Nanda Gopaul. That is one of the reasons why I am prepared to give him a chance. At heart, he is a trade unionist. Having done so, it has stymied the work of that tribunal. The burning issue between the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) - a subsidiary of RUSAL- the Russian company- has been halted. I believe that since it had started, it should exhaust the local remedy provided in the collective bargaining agreement but that is another thing that we are going to deal with. Suffice it to say this; we welcome foreign investment in this country. But the question is at what price do we welcome foreign investment into this country? Would we encourage a foreign employer with an uplifted spade to threaten our workers to go to work? That must never happen again in this country. We must not have any foreign companies riding roughshod in this country over the Guyanese people. The companies have shown a palpable disrespect for the Government of Guyana and the laws. It is time that this new Minister of Labour deals with them. It is time that you deal with them Hon. Member because it is an insult to the Guyanese people. Foreign companies had said to a union that had bargaining rights under the bargaining agreement, “You are no longer our bargaining agent.” How could one do that when legislation says how to derecognise? It is not fair and the Government looks impotent in the face of all of this. We do not know what big contribution RUSAL is making because I do not know why the profits, if any, are so caged up. We must have information on this company and why our public servants and our politicians appear to be hamstrung by them. 
It is imperative that the subventions to the Guyana Trade Union Congress be restored. It is further imperative that the subvention to the Critchlow Labour College be restored. It is also imperative to end the discrimination against our women and restore the subvention to the Women’s Advisory Committee of the Guyana Trade Union Congress. I do not know for what reason they are withdrawing it. The Critchlow Labour College, for example, gives Guyanese a second chance at qualifying themselves. Ask Mr. Robert Persaud LLM and he would tell you about it.      [Mr. Nandlall: MBA...]      MBA, Sorry Attorney General. I was thinking about you. We know the importance of it and I know that the man who has developed himself in the way that this Hon. Minister of Labour has done will ensure that he will persuade his colleagues as to how important it is that those subventions be restored to those three entities.
The right of collective bargaining must remain sacristant. The public service and the Public Service Ministry as well as the Office of the President treat the collective bargaining agreement which they have with the Guyana Public Service Union with scant regard. Every year they enter into negotiations and they never go to conciliation nor do they ever go to arbitration. Whenever it comes to the end of the year they unilaterally and arbitrarily break off the negotiations and impose the paltry 5% that they have done for the last ten years.
RUSAL was involved in negotiations for salary increases and they did the same thing. They said they derecognise the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union and imposed a 5% increase on their workers when the Bauxite Union was asking for a substantially higher increase. We must have respect for the collective bargaining agreements. Under the 1984 Amendment a collective bargaining agreement is enforceable in the Court of Law save where that the party says that it is not. If there is no provision in the collective agreement and I have read the one with GBSU and the Government and BCGI there is none. And so, we will have to deal with the situation. The problem that we have and I have said this ad nauseam, that the time is right to have an Industrial Court in this country. I remember the President saying this in time. So now that he is President, we will make that appeal to him again. When you have these Trade Union matters and issues like these here now which have halted the arbitration, it should go to the Industrial Court and be fast tracked. What happens is that it goes into this milieu which is our justice system...
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member your time is up.
Mr. B. Williams: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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