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Independent Senators praise PM

Wednesday, June 25 2014

INDEPENDENT Senator Elton Prescott yesterday evening described Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision to defer the two contentious Bills which seek to increase pensions for judges and MPs, as “making sensible and practical political sense.”

“There are people outside who are aggravated and agitating for something more to be done,” he said, adding that a Senate committee called to review aspects of the bills, will provide an opportunity to hear those concerns, and to arrive at a consensual report.

While the bill is a financial one and the Senate will not be able to vote on it, Prescott said that in the debate, which is allowed, there are areas in which it is deficient. “They seem to overlook certain offices,” he said. Going to a select committee, he said “would enable freer discussion and we would be able to hear certain groups in the society that have an interest.”

With regard to the sums to be paid to judges and legislators, he said that the existing legislation is already in place so it is just a matter of enhancing or broadening the allowances.

“The only question is, he said “is it too wide, or too deep?”

Another Independent Senator, Anthony Vieira said that Persad-Bissessar was being wise in holding back on it. Noting that he has a lot of problems with the two bills, notwithstanding the good intentions to help judges, he believed that Government was circumventing a constitutionally prescribed process and that cannot be good.

“I also find that it smacks of elitism,” he said because the issue of pensions affects everyone.

“All of us in Trinidad and Tobago are suffering in this guava season,” he said adding that “to put aside two bodies and treat them specially sends the wrong message.”

Noting the definite need for pensions reform, he said that it needs to be done holistically mindful of what it is going to cost the State and of the precedent that will be set.

“I came with serious concerns,” he said adding “I was not going to vote in favour.” (See Page 8A)

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