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MPs vote to keep car benefits

By Andre Bagoo Sunday, March 16 2014

A MOTION to preserve current car benefits enjoyed by MPs and to implement the latest report of the Salaries Review Commission (SRC) was approved by MPs early yesterday morning.

The motion was passed at 12.48 am by majority vote, with 19 Government MPs voting in favour and nine Opposition MPs voting against. Two Opposition MPs said they voted against the measure because they were of the view that the SRC should be fired and the Government should not implement the recommendations of the Constitutional body in charge of recommending pay levels for state officials.

In wrapping up debate of the SRC report, Government Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal noted the SRC had recommended a stripping of car benefits — which currently include exemptions from taxes and loans.

However, the Government was not of the view that this should occur at this time due to legal advice. Moonilal tabled an amending motion to the SRC report to ouster that recommendation and it was passed by simple majority shortly before the overall report was approved.

In so doing, Moonilal sought to ease concerns over any apparent conflict of interest of MPs voting upon their own terms and conditions. He framed the issue of car benefits as involving a wide range of public offices, not just MPs.

The Parliament’s move to amend the SRC report has been criticised by former SRC member Kenneth Lalla as a case of “himself unto himself”.

When they voted against the final amended SRC report’s approval, PNM Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert shouted, “The SRC should be fired!” PNM St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh said, “No, and fire them!”



* See story on page 18A

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