Consultant: MPs deserve pay increase

PORT OF SPAIN — Active consideration is being given to increasing the salaries of Members of Parliament.

This is one of the issues raised in a document prepared by consultant Anthony Staddon titled Activities on Strengthening Parliamentary Practices in Trinidad and Tobago, which was presented at a Parliament workshop at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort, Lowlands, Tobago, at the weekend.

The document said the increase must be considered in the context of T&T having a “small” Parliament and members have increasing workloads in parliamentary committees and in their constituencies.

“Such (small) legislatures often have greater difficulties than larger jurisdictions in the operation of the committee system simply because of the small number of members available to participate in the full range of committees,” Staddon said in his 71-page report dated February 2012.

The report noted that there was “the fundamental and all-encompassing question of whether the job of a parliamentarian is expected to be a full-time activity.” Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley suggested that it should be full time. Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said the suggestion was being considered.

Staddon’s report added: “The introduction of a Committee Service Allowance to Members of Parliament is a reflection of the demands of committee work.”

He said MPs who were Cabinet ministers “are considered to be holding full-time jobs. Most other members work in a profession parallel to their parliamentary mandate and are essentially treated as part-time parliamentarians.”

The consultant noted that the House of Representatives and the Joint Select Committees sit on Fridays, while the Senate and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Accounts Enterprises Committee meet on Tuesdays.

“Yet, modern parliamentary duties, such as committee work, not to mention the ever-increasing demands of constituency representation, may make it inevitable that Trinidad and Tobago moves beyond this one-day-a-week model towards a more full-time arrangement.

“This will entail further consideration of the adequate remuneration of members and the appropriate number of parliamentarians and senators,” the report added.

Remuneration packages

* Prime Minister — $48,000 plus $5,550 transportation allowance per month

* Cabinet minister — $33,000 plus $5,550 transportation allowance per month

* Non-Cabinet minister — $27,300 plus $5,550 transportation allowance per month

* Presiding officers (Speaker/Senate President) — $23,800 plus $3,800 transportation allowance per month

* Opposition Leader — $23,800 plus $4,900 transportation allowance per month

* Parliamentary secretaries — $18,900 plus $4,900 transportation allowance per month

* Chairman of PAC, PAEC and JSCs — $10,000 (Senate) plus $3,800 travel allowance and $14,000 (House) plus $4,100/4,200 travel allowance

* Members of Senate — $10,500 plus $3,800 travel allowance a month

* Members of the House — $14,000 plus $4,100 travel allowance a month/$4,200 (if‚constituency office is 50km from Port-of-Spain)

The Leader of the Opposition, Members of the Senate and the House are also paid a Committee Service Allowance of $1,000 a month. The chairmen of the parliamentary committees receive a $2,000 monthly Committee Service Allowance. The Salaries Review‚Commission‚had requested information from the Parliament as it began its reviews of the remuneration of Members of Parliament. (Guardian)

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