One-month tax-free bonus for joint services in Guyana

19 ranks to also get scholarships, President Ali announces

AS Guyana and the world over commence the holidays, all members of Guyana’s joint services will have even more to smile about, because in addition to their seven per cent salary increases, they will now benefit from the return of the year-end tax-free bonuses valued at one month’s worth of their salary.

The official announcement was made on Wednesday by President Dr. Irfaan Ali in his address at the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) annual Christmas luncheon at Base Camp Ayanganna, Georgetown.

“Let me be very clear on this because I want to be clear to all those who are listening; we are not returning the one-month tax-free bonus for any other reason, but because you deserve it; because you work hard for it,” the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces said.

The issuance of military bonuses was a practice under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government, but when the party demitted office in 2015, those bonuses became a thing of the past; however, leading up to the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, the party had promised to reinstate the incentives.

By December 2020, the bonuses returned at half capacity, with ranks receiving two weeks’ worth of their tax-free salary. This year, they will receive the full package.

“…and for those in our society who believe you can just take things away, and who believe that you can take things away from the soldier, I challenge them to go spend a year in some of the locations and live the life you do in protection of your country and then they will know whether you deserve it,” President Ali posited.

In addition to the monetary incentives, soldiers have also benefitted from a number of scholarships, including those offered by the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), as well as opportunities for 19 ranks to be trained as part of a Government of India programme.

“As a matter of fact, this year, we have had the most officers and soldiers being trained or advancing their educational aspirations in the history of this military, and this is just the beginning because we are going to support you in all your education aspirations,” Dr. Ali assured the military men.
He said that substantial investments will also be directed towards improving the requisite infrastructure to accommodate distance and online learning.

“So [that] all of you would have an equal opportunity; an equal shot at improving yourself and building a better prospect for your family. This is the goal and the vision,” the President noted.

According to a statement issued by the Office of the President, the approach towards military development would continue into the new year at an accelerated pace.

The President maintained that in addition to safeguarding the territorial integrity of the country, military officers have to actively integrate themselves in the national development strategy of the country.

In recent months, ranks of the GDF have been assisting the government in executing development works in several areas including infrastructure.
“Today, I stand here, and I want to celebrate with you the many roads, bridges that you have contributed in building in our country this year. Whilst we’re here, you’re even working, and you’re showing by example that you can work the long hours even in the night to build the median right out here on Carifesta [Avenue],” the President said.

Heading into 2022, Dr. Ali said that the GDF will also be partnering with the Guyana Police Force and the private sector to execute a massive clean-up campaign of the city.

“We will show them by our example that we can do it and if we do it as a people, then those who are in the leadership position whether at the NDC, the Town Council or the City Council, they must follow with their leadership in keeping it the way we will hand it to them,” the President posited.

He continued: “We will demonstrate that love for country and patriotism go far beyond what one may consider the military defence of our borders. It is about how we see ourselves. It is about how we respect ourselves. It is about how we respect the communities we live in. It is about how we portray Guyana to those who visit our shores.”

Meanwhile, the announcement of the military bonuses comes just one day after the President announced a $612 million pay-out for health workers within the public sector. This will see 9,200 persons receiving a one-off tax-free bonus valued at two weeks’ worth of their salaries before the end of the week.

Those bonuses come even as $10.5 billion has already been expended on salary increases for more than 50,000 public servants, including teachers and members of the disciplined services.

Additionally, the incentives represent just a portion of the direct cash benefits that Guyanese would have received from the time the PPP/C government assumed office in August 2020. Some of the other benefits include a $25,000 COVID-19 cash grant which was distributed to every household across the country; the education cash grants valued at $19,000, which was given to every school-aged child in the public and private school system; a $25,000 cash grant for pensioners, among others.

Moreover, the government also responded to the devastating May 2021 floods by distributing $7.8 billion worth of flood-relief grants to each affected household and farmer across the length and breadth of the country.

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