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Let them eat cake

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Government ministers are set to have a Happy New Year if they can get away with their plans to give themselves a significant salary increase and ignore the recommendations of the Salary Review Commission (SRC) to do away with the tax and duty-free concessions afforded to officials who fall under the SRC.


There are already calls for judges to protest the recommendations as an unconstitutional withdrawal of the benefits they already receive, and there have been sotto-voce grumblings from government ministers about the plans to remove the allowance as part of the estimated 24 per cent salary increase. Even members of the Opposition have seen the recommendations as disrespectful and much attention has been placed on the proposal to amend the benefit of duty and tax-free automobile purchases.


While parliamentarians in general, who have not had a salary increase since 2006, should be allowed their upgrade in remuneration, government ministers have found ways of enriching themselves by bypassing the SRC. The commission’s most recent recommendations should be seen as a way to treat with this issue.


Under the existing terms and conditions, ministers of government, parliamentarians, judges and some of the offices subject to the SRC are allowed tax and duty-free allowances, as well as low-interest loans for the importation of motor vehicles. It is a facility which almost all government ministers and parliamentarians took advantage of, with the very public exception of Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner.


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