Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 1st 2014 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, July 1, 2014
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Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has
written to President Anthony Carmona call-
ing on him to "immediately request the
Salaries Review Commission (SRC) to under-
take an urgent review of the salaries and
other conditions of service of non-executive
Members of Parliament."
Rowley s letter was dated March 20 but
was released to the media yesterday after a
news conference he held at his office at
Charles Street, Port-of-Spain.
In his letter he told the President that no
anti-corruption effort would be successful
without the required political will.
He suggested that for efforts to reform the
functions of the Parliament "as an oversight
body must be institutionalised by establishing
and equipping Parliament with adequate
strength, authority and resources."
Rowley has maintained that the work of
parliamentarians was full-time and they should
be appropriately compensated.
It comes as debate on two controversial
bills --- the Judges Salaries and Pensions
(Amendment) Bill and the Retiring Allowances
(Legislative Service) (Amendment) Bill --- is
expected to resume in the Senate this morn-
ing.The bills, presented last week by Environ-
ment and Water Resources Minister Ganga
Singh, seek to increase pension for judges and
MPs. The legislation has been the subject of
much criticism from former head of the public
service Reginald Dumas, former Independent
Senator Martin Daly and others.
Dumas and Daly wrote to all 41 senators,
saying they should not support the legislation
as it was being debated in contempt of the
Salaries Review Commission (SRC), which
was constitutionally responsible for recom-
mending the terms and conditions of employ-
ment for those officials.
Dumas said the legislation should be
approved for a specific time pending full deter-
mination by the SRC.
But Rowley said he did not share that view,
adding that for the past several years the SRC
had failed to look at the issue of pensions and
it was because the SRC had not addressed
the issue that the Cabinet had to deal with
it. He denied the perception that the Gov-
ernment and Opposition "got together one
night in a unique bi-partisan way to create
benefits for MPs."
The bills were approved in the House of
Representatives on June 13.
He said he was of the understanding that
the SRC was to make recommendations to
the Cabinet and for the Cabinet to adjudicate
on those recommendations.
"The SRC does not and is not required to
fix the terms and conditions of the persons
who fall under the SRC," he added.
Rather, he said, the SRC was required to
make recommendations for MPs and judges
"so as to allow the Cabinet to either accept,
modify or reject those recommendations."
It was a misrepresentation, he said, to claim
that the SRC had been bypassed and the Cab-
inet and parliamentarians were hastily fixing
up themselves and he also dismissed claims
that the SRC was not consulted over the pro-
posed pension increases for MPs and judges.
The problem was, he said, the SRC "had
taken the position that We are not going to
make any recommendations on this matter,
even when it accepted that it had received a
remit to do so.
He explained: "Because the SRC has taken
the position that it is not going to deal with
this matter of making recommendations for
a matter which the parliamentarians believe
ought to be adjusted, the parliamentarians at
the Parliament and the Cabinet have gone
forward with the matter.
"The SRC, a recommending body, has taken
the position that we are not treating with this
matter of the pensions."
Rowley said the pension bills represent "the
culmination of a process not the initiation of
a process for the benefit of those who are leg-
There were several documents which were
available to the SRC as a basis for its recom-
mendations, he said, among them the Strategic
Plan of the Parliament 2013 to 2018, which
was a description of the work of parliamen-
He told reporters the reports, which have
been adopted, would take effect by August.
The Parliament, he said, had accepted that
"the SRC was not prepared to make recom-
mendations on that matter and in some
instances had taken the position that is not
He said the Opposition had some concerns
about some generous provisions in the bill
but was prepared to make the amendments
at the appropriate time, and, in the end, "we
accept that something acceptable will be there,"
adding that the Government had not stopped
debate on the measures, as it will continue
in the Senate.
Rowley explained that the provision to
reduce the qualifying period for pension for
parliamentarians from five years to four years
was because the actual term of an MP could
be a few months short of five years and con-
sequently they might not qualify for it.
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SOS to Carmona
Opposition Leader wants review of MPs' pay
Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley yes-
terday claimed the controversial Life Sport pro-
gramme had been secretly funded since it was
established in 2012.
Rowley said Minister of Finance and the Economy
Larry Howai could not remain silent on the matter
He was speaking during a news conference at his
office at Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
He insisted Howai "must tell us that now because
this programme was being operated in secret, it was
being funded in secret.
"The first time we saw it in the Parliament was
last week Friday (two Fridays ago), when they came
for $32 million, part of which was for the first payment
to the programme," he added.
Life Sport is a training programme for less fortunate
youths, via sports.
It was transferred from the Ministry of Sport to
National Security after claims were made in May it
was funding criminals. An audit is also being done
by the Finance Ministry.
An executive of the programme, Ruth Marchan,
said she and others, including her so-called body-
guard, Curtis "Tallman" Gibson, have received death
She went into a safe house provided by former
national security minister Jack Warner this week
after Gibson, who recruited trainees for the pro-
gramme in Carapo, was killed at his home early
Sport Minister Anil Roberts said the programme
was necessary for the safety and security of citi-
But Rowley said Life Sport "is so shrouded in
mystery that I know of no source at this time which
can tell me how much money the Government had
expended on that programme."
He insisted Howai must provide answers to the
nation on the issue. Rowley said Howai made a
request in Parliament recently, "asking for $3.5 billion
and among that was (a request) for more money for
the programme. Interestingly enough, he was asking
for $8.8 million for the payment of the initiation of
the programme. ---See Page A7
Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley
during a press conference yesterday at the
office of the Leader of the Opposition,
Charles Street, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO:
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