It is not sufficient for a Senate Select Committee to make recommendations on the pensions of judges and parliamentarians. There should be genuine consultation with the Salaries Review Committee, members of the legal profession, labour representatives, business people, other stakeholders in the society and members of the public.
This was the response of former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj to the announcement yesterday by the Prime Minister that the Government would not approve the two pension bills dealing with increased pensions for judges and legislators, and it was proposing the matter be referred to a Select Committee of the Senate.
Maharaj said the Prime Minister merely staying the process for the enactment of these bills was not sufficient. He said members of the public must be satisfied at the end of the process there would be proper financial considerations and that the principles of the independence of the Judiciary and the doctrine of separation of powers would not be compromised.
Maharaj also called on the Prime Minister to give full disclosure into the circumstances and/or discussions which led to the Government agreeing to the provisions of the Judges Salaries and Pensions (Amendment) Bill and the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Service) (Amendment) Bill.
“It is important for the public to know whether the Government held discussions with the Judiciary in respect of the terms and conditions of judges which are contained in the bill,” he said.
Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj: “Members of the public are also entitled to know whether these legislative measures were drafted by the Office of the Attorney General; whether the Minister of Finance gave a report on the financial implication of the legislative measures and what sort of study the Cabinet did in respect of the financial and other impact on the public of these legislative measures.”