The question of proper salaries for parliamentarians cannot be divorced from the issue of campaign finance reform, People’s National Movement Senator Faris Al Rawi said Tuesday.
Speaking in the Senate, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain on the private motion on election campaign financing, filed by Independent Senator Helen Drayton, Al Rawi said there was a perception that politicians ought to live on air, “that they ought not to pay themselves appropriately, that we ought not to have remuneration commensurate with the task”.
He said members from both the Opposition, Government and Independent benches can attest to the level of work that a parliamentarian is required to engage in. He said Government MPs sit in the Cabinet, on Cabinet Committees such as the Finance and General Purposes Committee and the Legislative Review Committee. He said those parliamentarians who are elected have constituency duties but even senators may be shadowing constituencies. “We sit in Joint Select committees in Parliament, doing important work to regulate billion-dollar industries such as the insurance industry,” he said. He also cited committees such as the Public Accounts Committee and Public Accounts Enterprises Committee.
“So the question is this: can this debate be divorced from a true and proper renovation and reflection of the quantity of work in a Parliament for us to ignore the salaries and remuneration, emoluments and benefits of persons who sit in the Parliament,” Al Rawi stated.
He said (Speaker) Wade Mark would have been denied after many years of service in the Senate, the right to pension and to medical treatment.” (Under the current arrangement, Senators are not entitled to pension or medical treatment). And so the question is can we truly divorce the conversation of ensuring that the Salaries Review Commission treats with parliamentarians appropriately,” he said. — Ria Taitt