Linton

Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton, has given qualified support to a proposal by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to recognize and reward former prime ministers of Dominica.

Skerrit said during his 2018 Independence Day address that he intended to set up a bi-partisan committee to come up with measures for due recognition and reward to former prime ministers of Dominica who are alive.

He said he would write to the leader of the opposition the following day, seeking his support for the formation of a bipartisan committee of parliament to make recommendations for the enactment of a past leaders protocol that would set out “the manner in which we acknowledge and reward the contributions of those who have served at the highest level.”

Linton said in an interview on Q95 FM on Wednesday, that he had not yet received the letter but he expressed his support for the initiative and made clear his own views on some of the things that the committee, if it materializes, should consider.

“There is a legitimate need to look at the pension arrangements and the pension quantums for former leaders and we’ll be happy to sit down and to discuss those with Mr. Skerrit in his bi-partisan committee he proposes,” Linton stated. “Since he has indicated what he wants for himself, what he would like to see for himself, I’m now putting on the table because I will take this to the committee if the committee is ever formed, that this matter of compensation for former leaders has to be retroactive to the day when they left office.”

Linton said there are some details to be worked out which will be done in committee.

“But in principle, in principle,” he stressed, “when Mr. Skerrit leaves, to the extent that this protocol will be engaged before he leaves office, when he leaves office, he will be benefiting from day one from this arrangement. The former leaders have been struggling and I have think it is reasonable, it is fair, it is equitable for whatever remuneration has been agreed on for them, to be made retroactive to the date that they left office.”

Linton said he will also put on the table the extent to which past leaders have benefitted from public office.

“There are leaders in the case of which, there is no evidence at all that they have benefited materially or in any way from being in public office but that cannot be said for all leaders,” Linton noted. “So, when we come now to reward leaders who have served, I think there has to be an assessment of where you were before you started and where you are now materially in terms of your wealth creation, the status of your wealth because you will find there’s great disparity between these leaders.”

Linton argued that as the ones who will be footing the bill, the people of Dominica want to be sure that they are not rewarding people who use their time in office to benefit over and above what they were entitled from the public purse.

“And then you come back and you reward them for life with a prime minister’s pension. There has to be some other considerations that come into determining who is eligible for what level of remuneration and we would be very happy to discuss those in committee and to take it forward as expeditiously as possible,” the opposition leader declared.