“It is wrong. And I cannot see myself taking one dollar (of my parliamentary salary) for four years and then coming now to rape the Treasury,” Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner said.
Warner was commenting on the passage of two controversial bills which radically alter the arrangements for judges’ and MPs’ pensions.
“It is legalised corruption and I am not part of that,” he said.
Warner said parliamentarians know from beforehand that they are making sacrifices entering public life.
“Nobody put a gun to anybody’s head and said you had to do it,” he said, adding that it is a choice one makes.
Warner said it is wrong, one year before a government demits office, for MPs to seek to “feather their nest at the expense of taxpayers”.
Warner said Parliament met from 10 a.m. on Friday June 13—the day the two bills were passed—and five bills were passed one after the other.
“I thought they were making a mockery of Parliament so I left at 6 p.m. The two pension bills were passed at 10.30 p.m. Had I been there, I would have objected,” he claimed.
Warner said the pension benefits were far too generous and were not replicated anywhere in the Commonwealth, including countries which were in a far better situation than Trinidad and Tobago.
“The bill is an abuse of the parliamentary process.”
Warner said he hoped senators would vote against the bill today.
“What is right is right. People are unemployed, people in Laventille are being murdered every day, all over the country there is disharmony, grief and while this is happening we are passing a bill to make parliamentarians comfortable for life and judges comfortable for life.”
He said government pensioners, who are being asked to live off their pensions “until God knows when, their pensions don’t go up, but these judges and MPs’ pensions go up whenever salaries go up, long after they demit office”.
Warner, who stands to get a $30,000 monthly pension under the new arrangement, noted judges’ salaries were tax-free.
Warner said just as how they could give back “silk”, so too must judges give back the pension benefits being legislated for them.