GOVERNMENT MPs on Thursday supported the Prime Minister’s proposal that Cabinet consider capping tax exemptions for new cars for public office holders. with the exception of judges, at $350,000.
But opposition MPs were sceptical about this proposal, which Dr Rowley made in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, in his contribution to the budget debate. He was responding to a challenge by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to consider tax exemptions on the purchase of vehicles by MPs.
Lopinot/Bon Air West MP Marvin Gonzales said, “Very fair. I support it.”
D’Abadie/O’Meara MP Lisa Morris-Julian agreed.
“If the Cabinet says so, I definitely do not have any issue with their decision.”
Diego Martin Central MP Symon de Nobriga said, “It is part of the package and I am guided by the Prime Minister and Cabinet accordingly.”
But Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal scoffed, “This is just a mamaguy by Rowley.
“The Prime Minister is an experienced man in public service. He knows the Cabinet cannot unilaterally alter the legal terms and conditions of office holders.”
To implement this cap, Moonilal said, “requires a decision to alter terms by the Salaries Review Commission (SRC), that then goes to Cabinet and then to Parliament.”
He claimed Rowley was trying to distract attention from allocations that he received as a special executive grant for overseas travel.
Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein did not want to anticipate Cabinet’s decision on this issue., but said the SRC is the constitutional body which determines the terms and conditions of various public office holders and: “The vehicle exemptions is part of the terms and conditions.” On Wednesday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert questioned the acquisition of luxury vehicles by Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee and Moonilal.
Lee could not be reached for comment. Moonilal defended his purchases, by saying “Parliament is only my part-time occupation.”
The 98th SRC Report says the Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers, non-Cabinet ministers, parliamentary secretaries, Opposition Leader, elected MPs and senators who are not government ministers or parliamentary secretaries get a maximum loan of $350,000 at an interest rate of six per cent per annum for the purchase of either a new or used vehicle.
The report also said the Prime Minister receives a transport allowance of $6,660 per month and the Opposition Leader $5,880.
Senators who are not government ministers receive a monthly transport allowance of $4,560. Elected MPs who are not government ministers or parliamentary secretaries get $4,920.
In the Judiciary, the report said, the Chief Justice, Justices of the Appeal Court and ordinary judges are entitled to the same $350,000 loan facility to buy new or used vehicles.
The Chief Justice receives a housing allowance of $28,000 per month.
The report said the President has no loan facility to buy new or used vehicles, but has an official fleet of vehicles manned and run by the State.