President of the United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton is in contention with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s remarks that Dominicans should not make an issue over the increase of salaries for the members of parliament, including the prime minister and members of the executive.
The matter of increase in salary for parliamentarians has been a topic of much debate on social media with some people questioning whether the country can afford the increase or whether parliamentarians deserve it in the first place. Skerrit was questioned about the matter at a press conference last week.
“I would caution us against making an issue of an increase in salary of parliamentarians or the prime minister or ministers when others in the public service would have received an increase and we are all part of the public service,” he responded.
“I may be the chief servant but at least we are all part of the public service, so to say that the parliament and the cabinet should not get an increase but others is fine, I don’t think the argument is consistent.”
But according to Linton, with the new increase the prime minister is getting $4,000 more and ministers of government $2,300, while the public servants who receive less than $2,000 monthly salary get nothing.
“And mister Skerrit is happy with that … he tells you that this is not something you should be making an issue about,” Linton stated on local radio station Q95.
“You should not be making an issue of the prime minister getting more salary even though the concern of the prime minister getting more salary in this situation has to do with the struggle for survival in Dominica and the fact that those who are struggling more to survive than the prime minister receive absolutely nothing. The prime minister is already the beneficiary of living with his wife and family in a home that the state already pays over $100,000 a month for. Between rent and operating expenses, utility bills and transportation costs and insurance and drivers etc, etc, the bill to the people of Dominica, the charge to the public purse is over $100,000 a month and that doesn’t touch Mr Skerrit’s salary.”
In justifying the increase, Skerrit pointed to a 2007 parliament approval which indicated that salaries for members of parliament should be fixed against that of public officers.
“So if public servants were to get an increase in salaries then the parliament would get an increase in their salaries,” he explained at last week’s press conference. “And reason for this was that before 2007, you had a situation where there were a signicant number of public officers whose salaries were higher than that of the prime minister, higher than all the ministers, higher than that of parliamentarians… To avoid going back to that situation, we said look, whatever increase public servants would receive then there will be a formula that we use to allow for the change in the salaries of parliamentarians and of course the executive, the cabinet.”
Recently, the government of Dominica engaged in a reclassification exercise of the public service which included a salary increase for over 3,000 public officers, and according to the prime minister, parliamentarians, including the prime minister and cabinet members also got an increase “in keeping with the 2007 approval of the parliament, that was extended as well to the parliament…”
Linton stated that the $4,000 increase for the prime minister is twice the salary of some public servants who received nothing.
“Mr. Skerrit on his salary has no rent to pay, he has no vehicle loan to pay,” he said.
“And all the people, the people who are struggling on less than $2,000 a month to pay rent, to have a little car, to put groceries on their tables, to send their children to school and so on, Mr Skerrit gives them nothing but he takes $4,000 for himself. Four thousand is more than two times the highest level of pay for those who got nothing at all.”