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Moonilal defends pay rise for MPs:

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

THE work of a Member of Parliament has changed “drastically” over the years and is now “extremely demanding”, Leader of Government Business in the Lower House Dr Roodal Mooni­lal said as he laid in the House of Representatives yesterday the report of the Salaries Review Commission (SRC), which recommends the salary of parliamentarians be increased.

“I think it is universally accepted by all mem­bers of this House and by the majority of the national population that the work of a Member of Parliament has changed dramatically over the past decades, that today, a Member of Parliament is called upon to act in a full-time basis,” Moonilal said yesterday.

Moonilal said in the past, there was the “phi­losophical view” that the job of a parliamentarian was one that was an “end-of-year” vocation.

He said those holding this view believed parliamentarians “should not have the benefits and the luxuries of full-time, executive office-holders”.

Moonilal said these days, however, MPs are now on call 24 hours a day and constituents can be “unforgiving and extremely demanding”.

He said MPs are extremely accessible and can be contacted via e-mail, text message and visits to their offices.

MPs also require a varied skill set, including mediation and computer technology skills, Mooni­lal said.

“Mr Speaker, what has happened, and I want to say something with great love and affection, I do not want it to be taken as speaking with contempt, but, Mr Speaker, the whole society has become an instant society. You stay at home, you di­al, you get pizza; you stay at home, you dial, you get food; you stay at home, you dial, you get anything today; you stay at home, you dial and the MP comes by your door,” he said.

“That is how the society is genera­ting the instant-coffee mentality,” Moo­nilal said.

He described the increase in salary pro­posed by the SRC as “meagre” as MPs have not got a pay rise in nine years.

Moonilal said the value for performance of MPs cannot be achieved overnight. A job evaluation for MPs is also to be implemented, he said. 

• See Page 9

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