After reading reports of the Prime Minister’s recent press conference, I am convinced that he somehow thought that he was speaking to a gathering of his party faithful. He appeared as though he was doling out propaganda for them to disseminate.
His position on the the 10% increase in pay for parliamentarians betrayed a level of selfishness, and an uncaring attitude that is inconsistent with what is expected from a leader, whose people are suffering untold privation. The Daily Nation of Monday, June 6, 2016 reported the PM as having said:
I don’t think that this is any increase for parliamentarians. I asked members of Cabinet, I asked parliamentary secretaries, in fact I didn’t ask them, I ordered them, to give up…that ten percent of their salaries. The time has come for the restoration and for me it is no longer an issue of dollars and cents, it is a moral issue.
I can agree that it is a moral issue but not one that would bring any credit to him.
Government is claiming that the economy is starting to show some signs of recover. Presumably, it is on that basis that they are seeking to increase their own salaries. Why must they be the first ones to benefit from this alleged recovery? They were not the first ones to have suffered any loss.
The salaries of ministers and parliamentary secretaries are set out in the schedule to the Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries (Remuneration and Allowances) Act. The minister with responsibility for finance, consistent with section 5. (1), made an order setting new salaries for that category that was published as S.I. 2014 No. 9 in the Official Gazette on March 6, 2014. Section 5. (1) states:
The Minister responsible for Finance may, by order, amend the Schedule by increasing or decreasing any of the emoluments specified therein.
Nothing in that order even remotely suggested that it was for a limited duration. If that were the case the order should have said so. It did not. More importantly, as far as I can recall no such mention was made in the parliamentary debate.
The PM went on to liken dropping the Consolidation Tax and the credit union tax to restoring MPs salaries. That is a bit disingenuous since from inception those two impositions were implemented for specific periods.
In the case of the credit unions the tax was implemented retrospectively making it an illegal imposition. Didn’t Mr. Stuart think that having taken money out of credit unions illegally, he should first act morally by restoring it since Government had no right to it? Also, wouldn’t it have been moral to return the tax that is being taken out of the travel allowance of court marshals on a continuing basis since 2011.
Normally, public officers who have to travel in the performance of their duties are reimbursed for such travelling. Officers like postmen and court marshals have potential do almost unlimited travelling in the performance of their duty. In the case of marshals, government pays them a monthly travel allowance of $553.85 rather than allowing them to claim commuted travel.
In 2011 Government made travel allowance that was paid as a perk taxable. Marshals must travel to carry out their duty of serving court documents and their allowance should therefore not have been subject to tax. Section 3. (b) of the Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2011-11, states, in part:
…where an officer is entitled to be reimbursed for any amount of travel in the performance of the duties of his office or employment, that amount is not taxable.
Initially, that tax was applied to both postmen and marshals. When the error was discovered, they ceased taxing the allowance of postmen. To this day, five years later, the Government continues to illegally tax marshals. Wouldn’t it also be a moral issue to return the money to marshals?
It is not illegal for Government to take care of themselves first but it is certainly immoral.