Sun | Jun 16, 2024

No word, no salary increase or retro pay for parliamentarians

Published:Friday | June 2, 2023 | 12:44 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer

Government and opposition members of parliament (MPs), up to late yesterday evening, had not received the salary increases announced by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke last month.

As of 7:30 p.m. on June 1, a full week after all categories of government workers had been paid, the parliamentarians, whose salaries were expected to see whopping increases retroactive to 2021, did not reflect those increases, The Gleaner was told.

In early May, Clarke announced that members of the political directorate were set to receive salary increases coming to as much as 230 per cent by April 2024 when compared to April 2021.

Take-home pay for MPs was set to move from $4.3 million in 2021 to $14.2 million per year in 2024. Effective April 1, 2023, MPs were to receive $12.5 million each year. Sources have told The Gleaner that both government and opposition members received the same pay as they did in April, which was before the salary increases were announced.

The Gleaner was also told late last night that Cabinet ministers have not received their announced increases or retroactive payment.

“We received the same salaries as we were getting before. So for the month of May, we received the same salary as the previous month,” said Phillip Paulwell, leader of opposition business in the House of Representatives, when contacted yesterday.

According to Paulwell, when he made enquiries of the Parliament, which pays them, he was advised that the matter should be settled shortly but no finite settlement date was stated.

Edmund Bartlett is the leader of government business in the Lower House. When contacted yesterday, he advised The Gleaner to contact the finance minister.

Up to press time, however, Clarke had not responsed to messages seeking comment.

One member of the political directorate, on condition of anonymity, explained that “it would be impossible, even in the best-run countries, for the increases to be paid so soon after announcement”.

Clarke announced the increases days before the close of government’s accounting system for payroll to be met for the end of the month. The Government has received significant blowback since the announced increases, resulting in Prime Minister Andrew Holness removing the Office of the Prime Minister from salary and benefits payable to the office holder.

The prime minister’s salary was expected to jump by 214 per cent, with his pay moving from $9.1 million in 2021 to $28.6 million on April 1, 2024. Effective April 1, 2023, the head of government had been set to receive $25.3 million annually. His pay, however, will now remain at $9.1 million. The increases form part of the new rates under the public sector compensation system announced by Clarke.

Clarke too would see his salary move by 232 per cent from $7.4 million in 2021 to $24.6 million as at April 1, 2024. The finance minister will now receive $21.7 million effective April 1, 2023. Cabinet ministers have received a 230 per cent increase in salary up to April 1, 2024, with their pay moving from $6.9 million in 2021 to $22.9 million next year. As of April 1, 2023, Cabinet ministers will take home an annual salary of $20.2 million. The deputy prime minister’s salary has also surged by 221 per cent, moving from a little over $8 million in 2021 to $25.7 million effective April 1, 2024. As of April 1, 2023, the deputy prime minister is being paid $22.7 million per year. The leader of the opposition has received a similar increase to that of the deputy prime minister. He will receive a 230 per cent increase in salary from April 2021 to a similar period in 2024, MPs’ take-home pay will move from $4.3 million to $14.2 million per year. Effective April 1, 2023, MPs will receive $12.5 million each year.