by Linda Straker
- Tobias Clement to return May’s MP remuneration
- Members in the House of Representatives receive EC$1,200 per sitting
- The last increase was in 1999
Tobias Clement, Member of Parliament for St George’s North East has announced that he will be returning the monthly remuneration package of EC$1,171.72 provided to him as a Member of Parliament from the Office of the Lower House of Parliament.
His action is to protest what he describes as the low monthly remuneration.
Members in the House of Representatives receive EC$1,200 per sitting while members of the Senate receive EC$800 per sitting. The last increase was in 1999.
“I will do something in protest to what MPs are getting in this Honourable House. If I protest I will keep it alive, if I do nothing it will be swept under the rock,” Clement told the House as he announced that he had written a personal cheque that will be presented to the Clerk of Parliament.
“I have written a cheque to the Government of Grenada which I will give to the Clerk. It’s an act of protest. I will return to the Clerk of Parliament,” said Clement who informed that House that the first cheque will be for May.
No Member of Parliament showed any sign of support to Clement, but in his closing remarks, Speaker of the House Michael Pierre said he looked forward to a review of salaries of members and informed the Committee of Privilege that they would meet shortly to investigate the matter.
“We have a process to deal with that, it is a privilege matter, and the Committee of Privilege can look at this privilege matter,” he said.
The low salaries of MPs were a matter addressed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell after both Clement and Member for St Patrick West Anthony Boatswain called for a review during the May 2018 sitting of the House.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell told the House that the salaries of government ministers and members of parliament would be reviewed by a 3-member committee. He gave the assurance that the recommendation would not go beyond the next budget cycle.
“It cannot be fair for those who are leading the ministry to be getting less than staff, this just does not make sense,” Dr Mitchell told the Parliament back then. “It’s a serious problem, we cannot ask persons to serve and not give them resources,” said Dr Mitchell.
Clement who is a professor at St George’s University, for the second time, was elected to be the member of parliament for the constituency of St George’s North East. On both occasions, he opted to continue working at the university instead of accepting a minister’s job. He contends that he will not give up his job to become a government minister because his salary would be reduced significantly.
“I believe there is a fundamental injustice, in what parliamentarians receive. This is a historical effect that must be remedied; in the past, once you are elected automatically you become a minister, and you get a minister’s salary. Parliamentarians cannot survive on the EC$1,200, but at the same time they cannot get the salary as a minister,” said Boatswain who served as a government minister following the New National Party victories in the 1999, 2003 and 2013 general elections.
“I don’t think it’s right, but there must be something that will allow you to perform your duties as a parliamentarian because you have to represent your people. They still come to you; they want a cylinder of gas, they want assistance,” he said.