Salaries commission proposes pay hike for head of government: Pay PM $80,000

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Rowley – ROGER JACOB

THE Salaries Review Commission (SRC) has recommended salary increases for several of the country’s top public officials that will see the Prime Minister becoming the highest monthly income-earner in the group.

In its 117th report, the SRC is proposing a more than 30 per cent hike in the Prime Minister’s monthly salary to $80,000 which will make the head of government, the public official with the highest monthly salary.

The commission’s 113th and 117th reports were laid in the House of Representatives by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Friday.

In presenting the reports, Imbert said in the 113th report, the President by letter dated March 13, 2020 gave approval for the SRC to undertake a general review of the terms and conditions of officers under its purview. Paula-Mae Weekes was president then.

The 2020 review, Imbert continued, examined economic challenges that TT was experiencing as a result of the covid19 pandemic and compared it to economic challenges in 2014, when the SRC last reviewed terms and conditions for offices under its purview.

That review is contained in the 98th SRC report which was laid in the House on February 14, 2014.

In that report, the President, Prime Minister and Opposition Leader had monthly salaries of $64,270, $59,680 and $29,590 respectively.

These are their current monthly salaries.

In the 117th SRC report, their respective proposed monthly salaries are $73,920, $80,000 and $47,500.

The Chief Justice seems to be the only public official’s monthly salary which remains constant at $50,350.

The proposed salary increases for other public officials such as cabinet ministers, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the police commissioner are small.

In the 117th report, Imbert said the President by letter dated April 14, 2023 gave approval for the commission to review the terms and conditions of service of offices within its purview, based on the results of a job evaluation exercise and compensation survey which was undertaken by the Personnel Department in respect of these offices.

Christine Kangaloo assumed office as president on March 20, 2023. Imbert said the genesis of the survey was in July 2009 under the then Patrick Manning administration.

The survey began in 2012, under the then Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration and ended in January 2013.

The findings of the survey formed the basis for the recommendations in the SRC’s 98th report.

Due to complaints by members of the Judiciary that the methodology used in the survey was unsuitable to evaluate their terms and conditions, the SRC agreed in September 2020 to adapt the methodology to cater for “the complexities of the unique duties and responsibilities of the judicial offices.”

Imbert said the SRC created five groups or “families” of public officials whose terms and conditions it reviewed.

Those groups are elected and appointed officials, judicial offices, legal offices, top managers in the public service and statutory bodies and appointed officials to commissions and boards.

But Imbert said the SRC did not include the President and Prime Minister within any of those groups because they were considered to be unique offices.

He added that the SRC felt that the Chief Justice and Justices of the Court of Appeal similarly occupy unique positions within the Judiciary. For this reason, the commission believed their terms and conditions should be considered separately from the rest of the Judiciary.

Imbert said the commission acknowledged in its 117th report that the completion of its job evaluation exercise for offices under its purview took 14 years to complete, after it was approved in June 2009.

In the 117th report, the SRC recommended that the revised salaries it proposed take effect for all officers with the exception of the Prime Minister, members of Parliament and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary.

The revised salaries for these officers, if approved, will take effect retroactively from October 1, 2020.

The SRC recommendations are in contrast to the four per cent offered by government to public-sector employees, which several trade unions accepted, among them the TT Unified Teachers Association and the Police Social and Welfare Association.