Friday, January 19, 2018

No word by SRC head over criticisms

Chairman of the Salaries Review Commission (SRC) Edward Collier has declined to comment on the severe criticisms levelled at the commission by parliamentarians.

The SRC came under attack on Tuesday night in the Senate by Government Senate leader Ganga Singh, Minority Leader Camille Robinson-Regis and to a lesser extent by Independent Senator Helen Drayton.

“I am really not prepared to discuss the matter. ... We are in consultations and at the end of that consultation we would have to make a decision,” Collier said yesterday.

During the debate on the Judges Salaries and Pensions (Amendment) Bill, there was negative comment on the performance of the SRC and it was clear that neither Government nor Opposition had confidence in the institution. 

Drayton said if the SRC was guilty of non-performance and dereliction of duty, as Government and Opposition senators were saying, the Cabinet should advise the President to fire the SRC. 

The SRC is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. However, the commissioners cannot be dismissed by the President. They must resign or serve their tenure of office.

Meanwhile, former Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing recalled yesterday about when the Association of Local Government Representatives went to the SRC about the salaries of councillors at the end of 2012 or early 2013. 

He said the SRC told the association it could not make a recommendation for improved salaries unless a job evaluation exercise was done. Lee Sing said the SRC could not say when this job evaluation exercise would be done. 

He said he then asked whether the SRC would be prepared to choose an independent firm to do the job evaluation exercise and the association would pay for it. “We wanted them to have the information to fashion a proposal for better terms and conditions for councillors who are at the end of the ladder. And their (the SRC) response was ‘no we can’t do that’.” 

Lee Sing said he was not aware there was any law which stated an evaluation exercise of that nature must be paid for by the SRC or the State. “And so I left the SRC more disturbed than when I went there,” Lee Sing said. “Councillors are there on the frontline 24/07 and they were getting $3,000 a month. And that was wrong,” Lee Sing said. 

Since then the SRC’s latest report has given councillors a salary of $4,360 and a transport allowance of $1,860, subsistence of $650 and a telephone allowance of $300.