OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has cried shame on the Government, whose MPs, she said, “rushed through” legislation in Parliament to improve and enhance their pension and gratuity payments at a time when thousands in the country are struggling to make ends meet.
Speaking before a noisy, boisterous crowd of supporters at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum at Aranguez North Government Secondary School, Persad-Bissessar revealed the enhanced payments government MPs gave themselves when they used their simple majority to pass the legislation.
The bill was passed on June 18, with 21 members voting for while 16 members voted against it. Ganga Singh was the only Opposition member who voted for the bill. Persad-Bissessar said Finance Minister Colm Imbert will now receive $427,120 a year, up from a previous figure of $328,240, with a gratuity of $1,922,040. Minister in the Ministry of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds and Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis will take home similar figures.
Compared to that, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s pension paled by comparison, as his pension went from $82,056 to $106,776, with a gratuity of $640,680.
However, Al-Rawi has only five years’ service with the PNM, while Robinson-Regis has 20 years and Imbert 27.
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, with 12.5 years’ service, will increase her bank account from a prvious annual pension of $164,120 to $213,236. Her gratuity moves from $1,230,900 to $1,601,700. Parliamentary colleague Marlene McDonald will take home the same figures.
Persad-Bissessar said the Prime Minister is taking care of a privileged group while the rest of the country goes without. The crowd agreed, as they shouted their discontent. “This is what they are doing to fill their pockets, while the people get nothing.”
Persad-Bissessar moved on to the issue of non-declaration to the Integrity Commission claiming that over 70 per cent of government members have refused to declare their assets and liabilities as required by the Integrity in Public Life Act.
She said they were given four years in which to provide this information, but still failed to do so, after spending $223 billion since 2015. She said 60 per cent of govt MPs and 14 senators – 28 of 39 members – failed to declare their assets, and this did not include temporary govt senators, who refused to do so as well.
Persad-Bissessar said Speaker of the House Brigid Annisette-George, “who is supposed to represent a good example of accountability,” also failed to file her returns in the year preceding an election.
Others found lax in declaring their assets, Persad-Bissessar said, included MPs Adrian Leonce, Darryl Smith, Ancil Antoine, Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn, Edmund Dillon, Esmond Forde, Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Shamfa Cudjoe and Fitzgerald Hinds.
Senators are Clarence Rambharat, Franklin Khan, Paula Gopee-Scoon, Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, Dennis Moses, Rohan Sinanan, Kazim Hosein, Robert Le Hunte, Allyson West, Nigel De Freitas, Dr Lester Henry, Ayanna Lewis, Garvin Simonette, Avinash Singh, Alisha Romano, Ndale Young, Ronald Huggins and Augustus Thomas.
“The PNM Government refuses to account for money it is spending. We know we are not seeing it, just like we know who is benefiting,” said the UNC leader.
She also described government’s registering of Venezuelan migrants as the precursor to granting these migrants the status that would allow them to vote in the local and general elections as a means of stealing these elections.
This story was originally published with the title "Gov't ministers to get big-bucks pensions" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has revealed some of the figures government members will receive as their pension after the bill was passed on June 18.
Speaking during the Monday Night Forum at Aranguez North Secondary School, Persad-Bissessar said Finance Minister Colm Imbert will now receive $427,120 a year, up from the previous figure of $328,240, with a gratuity of $1,922,040, with Minister in the Ministry of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds and Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis taking home similar figures.
Compared to that, Attorney General Faris Al Rawi's pension paled by comparison, as his pension went from $82,056 to $106,776, with a gratuity of $640,680.