As the search for Debe hairstylist Ria Sookdeo continued yesterday, her husband, Mark Sookdeo, made a teary-eyed and desperate appeal to her abductors to return her to their family.
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Committee asks for $23,000 in allowances
The House Committee of the House of Representatives did not recommend a monetary increase on the basic salary of MPs in its first report, which was presented to Speaker Wade Mark on January 14. This is according to a source who also said the committee recommended an estimated monthly $15,000 duty allowance, $5,000 housing allowance and $3,000 transport allowance.
It also suggested that consideration should be given to giving MPs other allowances, including subsistence, medical, telephone, travel grant, vacation and maternity leave. But Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told a function in her Siparia constituency yesterday the Cabinet had “decided not to implement the significantly higher levels of pay increases proposed by the Parliamentary House Committee for members of Parliament, including the House of Representatives, Senate, and the Tobago House of Assembly.”
She said the Cabinet had agreed to implement “the more modest increases recommended by the Salaries Review Committee (SRC) which is a standing body appointed by the President under the Constitution.” The report of the committee and the 98th report of the SRC were laid simultaneously in Parliament last Friday by the Leader of Government Business, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal.
The report said the committee was “concerned that in 2014 the commission (SRC) remains convinced that, notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary, the role of a MP (non-Cabinet) is part-time.” It said the SRC had not provided the basis upon which it held that view. Rather, the report added, parliamentary remuneration had evolved from being a “disbursement for the deferral of costs to become a proper salary designed to guarantee MPs a decent standard of living and to protect them from corruption.”
The committee also recommended that the Speaker (elected) and Leader of the Opposition should be paid the same salary as a Cabinet minister.
The list of recommendations includes:
• The work of an elected MP is full-time and remuneration must reflect that.
• It is unjust to require parliamentarians to forgo entitlements they currently enjoy. The committee recommends the outright rejection of the proposal to limit MPs’ entitlement to duty/tax exemptions on cars they buy for their official use
• Parliament is expected to debate the reports tomorrow.
• Legislators are expected to conclude the committee stage of deliberations on the Nurses and Midwives (Amendment) Bill and the report of the Standing Orders Committee during the sitting, which is expected to be lengthy.