A legal battle is brewing over the financial information provided to Parliament last week about payment made to attorneys by the Ministry of the Attorney General for legal and other technical/profe
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Dumas: SRC slack on what’s full-time work
Former head of the public service Reginald Dumas is describing as slackness the failure of Parliament and the Salaries Review Commission to determine whether MPs were working full-time or part-time. Dumas was commenting on the First Report of the House Committee of the House of Representatives and the 98th report of the SRC, which were laid by the leader of government business, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, last Friday.
The committee’s report said the work of an MP was full-time and their salaries and benefits should reflect that. But Dumas said the SRC indicated in its report that it was unaware if MPs’ work was full-time or part-time and that it was awaiting a job evaluation exercise and compensation survey to address that issue. Dumas expressed surprise that “in 2014 we are now trying to find out whether MPs were full-time or part-time.”
He said he wanted to know what had the SRC been doing over the past several years. “So there is a grey area here and I think it is slackness on the part of everybody concerned. Surely by now, in 2014, we should know whether an MP is full-time or part-time,” Dumas insisted. He also noted that MPs were objecting to the proposal by the SRC to restrict their duty and tax-free entitlements.
The SRC proposes to restrict all MPs, including the Prime Minister, to exemptions from Motor Vehicle Tax of $30,000, Value Added Tax of $53,000 and Customs Duty of $90,000. This means the MPs can get exemptions up to those amounts. The MPs, however, are objecting to these proposals and insisting that there should be no restrictions. Dumas said that position forced one to ask what kind of vehicles MPs intend to import that would attract taxes, duty and VAT higher than those amounts.
“What is wrong with those proposed restrictions?” Dumas asked. He said the MPs must “explain to the public their objections because that was being done at the public’s expense.” Dumas said the country must know the cost of those exemptions, especially when there were roads to be paved and schools to be repaired. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is expected to state the government’s position on the SRC report in Parliament on Friday when legislators debate the measure.