Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Camille’s rat picong angers Fixin' T&T
Fixin' T&T yesterday knocked People’s National Movement Senator Camille Robinson-Regis for attacking those members of society opposed to the recent passing of the Judges Salaries and Pensions Amendment Bill and the Retiring Allowances (Legislative) Amendment Bill.
During her contribution to debate on the bills in the Senate late Tuesday, Robinson-Regis, in defending her party’s decision to support the bills, said the decision by both the Government and the Opposition “has resulted in some rats coming out of their holes.” Her comment seemed to be directed at those leading the public debate against the bills in recent days, which will see huge increases in the pensions of judges, senators and MPs.
She said just as her colleagues in the Lower House had agreed with the proposed pension increases proposed in the bills, so too did the PNM senators in the Upper House. She said the PNM believes the anomalies in the pensions for those addressed in the bills, and those for judges in particular, had to be confronted head on. She pointed out that many judges were unable to live comfortably in their golden years after giving much of their productive lives to serving the society.
Robinson-Regis’s sentiments echoed those of Government Senator Ganga Singh, who earlier also defended the PP’s decision to bring the bills to the House. Both Robinson-Regis and Singh argued that the Salaries Review Commission (SRC) had previously noted that it had no jurisdiction in the matter and that it was the parliamentarians who would rightly have to deal with it.
Recalling a meeting with the SRC he had attended along with Colm Imbert and the late Ken Valley years ago, Singh said it was clear then that the body did not have an appreciation for the work that was done by parliamentarians. But he noted that even then the SRC agreed it did not have jurisdiction in the matter and it was parliamentarians who would have to decided on it.
But yesterday, Fixin' T&T said Robison-Regis’s description of those individuals and organisations expressing an opposing point of view to the bills as “rats coming out of their holes” was disrespectful and an insult to the people of T&T. It said: “This reaction by the Opposition Senate Leader is deeply troubling and potentially dangerous. We categorically reject any suggestion of this offensive statement as being 'political picong.'
“Fixin' T&T calls on Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to apologise to the people of T&T and take the strongest disciplinary action against Mrs Robinson-Regis.”
It added that “equally disturbing was the enthusiastic desk-thumping heard immediately following the most unfortunate statement. There seemed to be no attempt by anyone in our Parliament at that time to come to the defence of our citizens.”
The body noted that it was of the firm view that remuneration and pensions for our parliamentarians, judges and many others in public service require significant increases. However, it noted that proper process must be observed and adhered to, effective systems of accountability must be in place and compensation must be linked directly to performance.
It reminded parliamentarians that they were employed by the people and insisted that in the current session, similar energy be invested in moving with alacrity to enact legislation to govern political party financing, political campaign financing and procurement.