Don't blame this Govt for delay in judges' pay packets
In response to the Express editorial entitled "Justice for our Judges" published on Monday, September 24, 2012.
The editorial started off with the following statement: "Serious issue must be taken with the priorities of an administration that would spend millions on hiring foreign Queen's Counsel to the support the office of the Attorney General while neglecting the long-standing remuneration issues affecting the judges of Trinidad and Tobago."
This statement contains an unfortunate element of bias for the following reasons:
1. The hiring of foreign Queen's Counsel by the Office of the Attorney General did not start with the present administration. Indeed, several prominent Queen's Counsels were brought in during the tenure of the last administration for the Uff Commission of Enquiry, the prosecution of Basdeo Panday, the prosecution of Sat Sharma and the CLICO fiasco, to name a few. The budget for this item of expenditure was hardly different.
2. The issue of judges' salaries is a problem this administration inherited as the last time the remuneration package for judges was revised and increased by the Salaries Review Committee (SRC) was in 2008.
3. It is therefore, disingenuous to lay the blame for the non-resolution of this long outstanding matter on the doorstep of the People's Partnership government. The Prime Minister pushed the start button over a year ago by requesting the President to mandate the SRC to take immediate steps to revise the terms and conditions of all offices falling within its purview, which includes the judges.
The report of the SRC of this general review is still outstanding. The SRC is an independent body appointed by the President in accordance with the Constitution and hence the Government has no control over it.
Ministry of the