INDEPENDENT Senator Charrise Seepersad urged that salaries of ordinary public servants should be debated, not just the pensions of those on the “high end,” speaking on Monday in the Senate debate on a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill.
“Is it the right thing to raise pensions for certain office holders who are at the high end of the salary scale?” She asked the total cost of these hikes.
“At this time of economic belt-tightening, what message is being
sent to the population with the implementation of these selective pension increases?”
Saying the TT Constitution mandates the Salaries Review Commission (SRC) to set and review the terms and conditions of these office holders, Seepersad asked if the SRC had been consulted on the planned pension hikes.
“What about the pensions of other public officers?” she asked. Seepersad cited a letter from a retired public servant to a senator that pleaded for a reintroduction of the cost of living allowance to help meet the serious financial challenges such retirees face.
“Their pensions are currently unable to provide them with a liveable income. “If government is intent on proceeding with these changes (in the bill), I urge them to review the compensation of all public officers,” she said.
“The Report of the SRC 2013, the general review of salaries and other conditions of service officers within the purview of the SRC, should be reviewed and updated and brought to the Parliament and debated in the House of Representatives.”
On the proposals to amend the Freedom of Information Act, she said the act supports openness and accountability of the government, and urged a correction of the operational problems of answering FOIA requests, to satisfy citizens within the 30 days listed in the act.
She said “implementation and administrative issues” were no reason to extend this period. “The Government should listen to the citizens of TT and delete clause seven.” In the end, this clause was deleted and the Bill passed.