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Opposition MP wants increased pension for MPs
A veteran politician is suggesting that when Barbados’ economic fortunes turn around, parliamentarians should get increased benefits, including a hike in their pension and health insurance.
Representative for St George North Gline Clarke also suggested that the eight-year minimum requirement for parliamentarians to qualify for pension should be lowered to five years.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) MP told Barbados TODAY he believed the improved compensation was deserved, as he complained that too many politicians have made financial sacrifices to assist constituents but then themselves wind up in bad situations.
Clarke said some of those people who had devoted their time and energy to the people who elected them were left in degrading positions, unable to survive on their “meagre pensions” and forced to rely on family members for financial support.
“After spending so many years in here [Parliament], there should be something where parliamentarians can have a decent pension to live on comfortably. We don’t want to be rich. What we get is meagre . . . in terms of living from day to day, it’s really meagre,” he said.
“I’m suggesting a system where, if you become a parliamentarian for five years, you be pensionable. There are some parliamentarians who serve for 25 years and at the end of that 25 years they have to remortgage their homes. Some of them have to pass on their mortgages to their children and they have to rely on their family,” Clarke lamented.
The MP also insisted that medical insurance should be provided to parliamentarians and others employed in the House of Assembly.
“A businessman could afford to pay for the best doctors, but at the end of the day a parliamentarian can’t. There’s no medical insurance that we have, unless you go on your own,” he noted.
Clarke was clear, however, that his proposed reforms were not for immediate implementation given the country’s financial state.
“It has to be done in the long run. Some of us are fortunate in that we have family abroad but that’s not the answer. We have to continue the modernisation
of Parliament,” he added.
The opposition MP made his recommendations in an interview with Barbados TODAY after parliamentarians paid tribute to BLP stalwart Lionel Craig, who died on March 9 at the age of 85. Clarke first raised the issue of insurance for parliamentarians during his contribution to the tributes.