TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) deputy chief secretary Faith BYisrael says there was nothing untoward in the salaries paid to individuals hired by her office.
She said the salaries, which were revealed by THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris on social media several weeks ago, were in line with industry standards.
She answered reporters’ questions at a THA briefing on Thursday, saying she had seen a list of individual employees and their salaries publicised.
“What is important to note is that the salaries are not actually exorbitant when we look at the skills that we require when we look at the technical capacity that is required to do some of the work that we need to do.
“It is important to note though that in many of the situations, in many of the names that were there and even many of the positions that were there, although the salaries were correct some of those individuals were part of the team when the former deputy chief secretary was there and actually some of them left, probably before he demitted office.” She said it was inaccurate to say those employees were paid for 22 months.
“It is important to note though, that I think Tobagonians need to be conscious of the fact that information like this is really put out to try to distract us from some of the bigger issues that are going on.” BYisrael cited her own qualifications of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
“The figures that are presented there are actually not even close to industry standard salaries.
“One of the things we have to be conscious of is the fact that when we want production out of the THA, we have to be very willing to pay individuals for the technical capacity that they are bringing to the table.
“Those salaries were actually part of a process where the Management Services Unit looked at what was ‘out there’, looked at what was ‘okay.’”
She said many salaries paid were lower than the industry standards.
“In many instances, many of those individuals are not currently working with the THA. Those working with the THA have not been working there for 22 months as was purported.”
She urged people not to be distracted by certain information being touted. “Tobago needs to get to a place where we attract the best technical people to do the work that we need them to do.”
THA chief secretary Farley Augustine chimed in, “It is not just attracting the best people but our brightest Tobagonians to the table. We don’t want the continued exodus from the island of our brightest minds and our experts. We want to find a way to attract them around the table.”
Augustine said young Tobagonians were now getting a chance at the THA.
“There are many instances where the divisions were hiring people from elsewhere – from the place next door to us – to do the work at higher salaries. But this (THA) government is insisting that there are Tobagonians who are qualified and capable and should be the ones to have a seat at the table.”