HomeGeneral NewsAttorney General Defends Senior Parliamentary Officials Salary Pay Scale Adjustment Following 19-Year...

Attorney General Defends Senior Parliamentary Officials Salary Pay Scale Adjustment Following 19-Year Gap

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By: Spokesman Newsroom

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Thursday 29th February 2024)- Attorney General Garth Wilkin has given reasoning for the government closing the 19-year gap since senior parliamentary officials received a salary increase, noting in part that some senior public servants, including permanent secretaries and some directors, are paid a higher salary than the ministers they report to.

“It is wholly unacceptable, Madam Speaker, that for 19 years, while public servants received salary increases of 41%; 41% which they deserve, and which mirrors inflation, and which is right, during that 19 years, ministers of government received no salary increases at all,” he said during his presentation in the National Assembly on Thursday 22nd February 2024 ahead of the adoption of the resolution to accept recommendations of the 2019 Salaries Review Commission, effective 1st March.

“It is wholly unacceptable, Madam Speaker, that in 2024, senior public servants, including permanent secretaries and some directors, are paid a higher salary than the ministers they report to. It is wholly unacceptable that the salary of the financial secretary, even though well-earned, she works hard, one of the most senior public servants, is 24% higher than that of a minister.”

“It is wholly unacceptable that the salary of a middle manager or supervisor in a back office in the private sector is making more than that of a minister. We cannot accept those bizarre realities just for the sake of politics. The overriding priority of this administration is to serve the taxpayers, with the most committed and able people to serve with an unwavering commitment to their country.”

According to the Attorney General: “We are here to do the good that we can do for the people. This A-Team is therefore made up of young professional ministers in their prime, even a senior minister, who has found a fountain of youth in the foreign ministry; lots of energy. We all have energy and vigor, as we go about the people’s business. No one is falling asleep on the job, like it was the usual in the past. No one is leaving work early to go to the bar, like it was the usual in the past…All of us are working diligently and tirelessly to ensure that we build a St.Kitts and Nevis for all our people to be proud of.”

He continued: “So naturally, the compensation for hard work should be proportionate. How can the status quo be fair when the Deputy Prime Minister with a PhD in leadership and management, is paid a salary equivalent to his chief education officer, and less than his PS, both of whom report to him? How can the status quo be fair when the senior minister is being paid a salary of 24% less than the financial secretary? How can the status quo be fair when the Caribbean Tourism Minister of the Year is being paid $8,500 when her tourism authority CEO, who reports to her…”

AG Wilkin pointed out that earlier that day, a report dated September 30th, 2019, as was prepared by the Salaries Review Commission, pursuant to the responsibilities contained in the Salaries Review Commission Act, Cap 22.14.

“The Commission is tasked to make recommendations to the government with respect to the salaries and other conditions of service of the Governor General, members of Parliament, including the Speaker of the House, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Prime Minister, Attorney General, Ministers of Government, and the Leader of the Opposition, etc.”

Additionally, he highlighted that in 2018, the first formal Salaries Review Commission was established, and that the report was prepared and submitted to the then Prime Minister [Dr. Timothy Harris].

Such details, as shared by him, were brought to the attention of the present Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew by the late Governor General Sir Tapley Seaton.

“It was, however, not tabled in the National Assembly, nor, as we discovered in this Honorable House, was it tabled in the then Cabinet. When we took office, the then Governor General, God bless his soul, the late Sir Tapley Seaton, KC, brought the report to the attention of the Prime Minister, who then brought it to the attention of the Cabinet, and now it is tabled in the National Assembly, as required by the Act. This is the procedural history of the 2019 report, Madam Speaker.”

As pointed out by AG Wilkin, given the legal nature of the report, the Prime Minister [Dr. Terrance Drew] has tasked the lawyers in the AGO, the Attorney General’s Office, to review it, examine regional similarities, and educate the public on how this important process works.

The Drew-led administration took office in August 2022.

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