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Ramesh on municipal cops’ exclusion from $1,000 allowance: ‘Naked discrimination’
Former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, said yesterday it was “naked discrimination” that municipal police officers were excluded from the $1,000 non-taxable allowance given by Government to the Special Reserve Police (SRP). Both Maharaj and Public Services Association president Watson Duke yesterday called on Government to immediately extend the allowance to municipal officers.
Maharaj and Duke met with the officers separately at City Hall, San Fernando. “I have also been told that the Government has given an allowance to SRP officers but has not given an allowance to you that again is naked discrimination as far as I am concerned,” said, Maharaj, who recently returned from England.
Noting that the T&T constitution guarantees the right to equality of treatment, he said, “The Government in its exercise of its duties and functions must exercise those powers in such a way that it must promote and deliver equality of treatment and if the Government in the exercise of its function gives SRP officers an allowance and you perform the same or substantially the same duties it would seem to me that you are entitled to have the same allowance.”
Pledging the PSA’s support, Duke said municipal police were the first law enforcement officers in the country. “Therefore we felt it was a mis-statement for the budget to be read three times by the People’s Partnership Government and no credence be given to the work that these officers have been doing. So much so as to recognise them for this $1,000 taxable allowance. We believe it is a mistake and it must be corrected as soon as possible,” the PSA head said.
Duke said Immigration, Customs and Excise and Licensing officers are also entitled to the allowance. Municipal police officers, in a press statement, stated that they held meetings with Local Government Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan before the budget and he had promised that they would receive the allowance.
Saying that they are exposed to the same risks and liabilities as their counterparts, the disgruntled officers complained they are overworked, understaffed and paid meagre salaries and benefits. “Officers have voiced their disgust and are quietly planning protest actions. “After all we are not police officers, right?” the release stated.
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