Kamla says ‘no’ to pay hike for herself, Rowley, Kangaloo

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is recommending that public servants benefit from the proposed salary hike, but leave her, the Prime Minister and the president’s remuneration packages as they stand.

At her party’s anti-crime meeting in Chaguanas on the night of February 19, Persad Bissessar said if she was in Government she would reject the proposal by the Salary Review Commission (SRC) to pay politicians between 15 and 40 per cent increases.

The report, which was tabled in the House of Representatives and is subject to Cabinet approval, has recommended that Dr Rowley’s salary move from $59,680 to $80,000 per month, Persad-Bissessar’s from $29,590 to $47,500 and, President Christine Kangaloo’s from $64,270 to $73,920.

The president’s salary remains tax-free while Rowley’s and Persad-Bissessar’s earnings will be taxed.

Persad-Bissessar told the audience, “This is a matter for the Government. The Opposition has no say.”

She said she told the Parliament on February 16 when the report was tabled, “to let the Opposition have it’s say.

“What happened? The Government had its way. That is how the Parliament works.

“If it were me, I would not go down that road at all.”

She said the proposal does not aim to benefit other deserving public servants.

“People are only looking at the parliamentarians. Those guys work very hard, but it also covers people like councillors, it covers all the senior public servants who work very, very hard.”

Highlighting that approximately 300 different classifications are due a pay rise, Persad-Bissessar said they should not be denied.

“It is about a few hundred people. They should benefit. Leaves us from the top, out.

“Rowley, no. Kamla, no. The president, no. But give the rest of the public servants, give it to them. They deserve it.”

Adding an element of political inflection on Rowley’s future, she said, “I think he is just feathering his nest knowing he is going to lose the next election. So, he wants that pension money.”

Persad-Bissessar was joined by professor of African studies Selwyn Cudjoe, who declared his alignment and love for the People’s National Movement (PNM).

Cudjoe said his reason for mounting a platform of the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) was to demonstrate that he loved his country more.

“I am honoured to share my views on the state of crime in our country at this forum, for the simple reason that if the intensity of criminal activity continues – both at the hands of bandits with guns or social bandits with pens or computers – at the rate things are going, it will reduce our civilisation to a level of barbarity in the next ten years.

“Such a situation will make our society unliveable for both the bandit, the white-collar criminal, and the ordinary man and woman. As a citizen of this great country, I felt it imperative to add my two cents to this grave existential threat.”