Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2014 Contents SHALIZA HASSANALI
MPs without ministerial portfo-
lios have been given a salary
increase of $3,410 in June. How-
ever, they are still not happy.
Last week, Point Fortin MP Paula
Gopee-Scoon, who was still not sat-
isfied, said it was time for the Salaries
Review Commission (SRC)---the
body which recommended the salary
hike for MPs---to go, because they
failed to undertake a job evaluation
exercise to determine how much
MPs should really be paid.
An upset Gopee-Scoon said the
SRC should go since they were
"totally out of sync with what is
For decades, Gopee-Scoon said,
the SRC had been completely out
of touch. "We are getting nowhere.
We are spinning top in mud."
Last year, the SRC had recom-
mended the monthly salary of MPs
be boosted from $14,000 to $17,410
(before tax), said Oropouche East
MP and Housing Minister Dr Roodal
Moonilal said he did not know
how the SRC arrived at the $3,410
"That is another bugbear in that
there is very little justification on
how they arrived at a figure. That
entire system, I believe, could be
archaic and needs revision and
reflection. You are seeing the imbal-
ances appearing in a glaring way."
The last salary increase MPs
received was in 2005.
There are 41 MPs in the House
of Representatives, many of whom
were given ministerial portfolios.
The SRC had recommended in its
98th report last year that MPs be
stripped of their monthly $4,000
vehicle allowance---their only perk.
Moonilal said the ad hoc recom-
mendation to remove the vehicle
benefit did not help the image of
the SRC and had brought the com-
mission into disrepute.
"The SRC should have presented
greater scientific evidence on their
recommendations," he added.
He said they sought legal opinion
on the SRC s recommendation on
the vehicle allowance "and we got
the opinion that it was improper
and contrary to law and practice.
That is why it was not accepted."
Moonilal said members on both
sides also expressed serious misgiv-
ings on the SRC s failure to have a
job evaluation exercise done after
He felt MPs should be adequately
compensated as full-time employees,
even though they provided public
Though many citizens hold the
view that MPs do not do enough
and seldom represent constituents,
Moonilal begged to differ, stating
that MPs had been performing and
that their workloads had increased.
"If you walk on the street and ask
people if politicians should get an
increase generally, people would say
no. As a matter of fact, they would
say cut their salary. MPs are in a
category called low-trust profes-
sionals. Interestingly, when there is
an election there is no shortage of
people who want to become politi-
Moonilal said T&T s politicians
were measured by presence rather
"Politicians over the years have
undermined effective representation
by just walking the road. They made
the work of representatives a sort
of instant coffee. They had no rep-
resentation and did not do much,
but allowed themselves to be seen.
Generally people believe that is rep-
resentation. People believe that if
they open their door Sunday morn-
ing and they see you by the gate,
you are a good MP."
What is a reasonable salary for
MPs? Moonilal could not say.
He said the lack of insurance cov-
erage for MPs was another matter
they had been trying to address.
Asked if MPs should be full time
or part time, Moonilal said: "There
is no need to make MPs full time.
They are now by definition, with
the coming to being of the new
Standing Orders, full time. There is
no doubt about it, MPs would have
to work every single day and maybe
at nights in some cases. It s now a
hit hard in Opposition
Meanwhile, Gopee-Scoon believes
it is time MPs advocate for change
within the SRC because of its poor
"There must be proper analysis
and consultation with constituents,
Parliament and MPs. The SRC
should have had discussions with
MPs in order to understand what
their job entails. The SRC has been
sitting in their offices without
enquiring from constituents about
She believes that salaries must be
benchmarked and properly evaluated,
and that it is the responsibility of
the President of T&T to act.
"We would not be in the hot water
we are in with pensions and salaries
reviews if it was properly addressed
at the top. There is too much silence
from the President on this matter.
In fact, there is only silence on it.
He needs to attend to this."
Gopee-Scoon said even the
$4,000 travelling allowance given
to MPs was too small.
"It s not just about the money.
You have to start with what is nec-
essary, what is required, what kind
of performance you want and salary
She said the $45,000-a-month
pay package she used to take home
as former foreign affairs minister
compared to what she got now as
an MP was chalk and cheese.
She confessed that her MP s salary
could barely sustain her and that
she was often forced to dip into her
personal savings to cover her expens-
es.Gopee-Scoon confessed that her
savings had been drying up as an
Being an MP had not helped her
financially, she said. "I have not
improved my position in life at all,
in addition to which my family life
broke up when I became involved
in government...I mean my marriage
Before joining politics, Gopee-
Scoon said, she worked in the bank-
ing and business sectors.
"Surely I lived much better back
then. As an Opposition MP, the pri-
vate sector refuses to hire you
because they only want to be asso-
ciated with the ruling party. I only
started to work part time this year
as a lecturer at Costaatt. I only
worked two semesters."
She said people didn t understand
what representation really meant.
"When you are in Opposition you
have to depend on Government. You
don t have funds and operate without
Hypolite: MPs should be
paid $30,000 monthly
Laventille West MP Nileung
Hypolite argued that MPs should be
paid in line with their counterparts
throughout the world.
"I think an MP should be paid
$30,000 a month."
He said MPs put in long hours at
constituency offices, on the ground,
at committee meetings and in Par-
liament and as such, should be paid
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt July 20, 2014
Continues on Page A9
$3,000 salary hike in
June leaves MPs upset
"That is another bugbear
in that there is very
little justification on
how they arrived at
a figure. That entire
system, I believe,
could be archaic
and needs revision
You are seeing
appearing in a
Links Archive July 19th 2014 July 21st 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page