Rural Development and Local Government Minister Franklin Khan made this point to reporters yesterday during the tea break in the Senate.
As he spoke about a meeting he and other parliamentarians had recently with representatives of the Korn Ferry Hay Group, a consultant hired by the Office of the Chief Personnel Officer and secretary to the Salaries Review Commission (SRC) in order to conduct a job evaluation exercise for offices within the purview of the SRC, Khan said no proposals for pay increases for MPs or other public officials that fall under the SRC’s purview were discussed in that meeting.
“That (imminent pay hike) is furthest from the truth,” Khan told reporters.
Explaining that the SRC has “the sole jurisdiction to propose remuneration packages for a kind of State sector employee,” the minister said.
He added, “They have brought down a consultant to do a review for them, in particular the parliamentary staff and elected representatives.” Khan, who is also Leader of Government Business in the Senate, said, “When that consultant finishes their study, they will make proposals to the SRC. They (SRC) can accept it or reject it.” He further indicated that “even when the SRC makes its final recommendation, it still has to be approved by Cabinet and by the Parliament.” As he stated this process is in train and the discussions are at a very preliminary stage, Khan said before any final decision is made “obviously the national sentiment will always be taken into consideration.” He said the consultant got a feel for the kind of work this country’s parliamentarians do and the issue of full-time vs part-time MPs is being looked at.
Khan explained that at this time MPs’ remuneration “is based on the concept that they are part-time.” He said another important thing which the consultant will be doing as part of its work is making comparative studies between TT and other jurisdictions in the Commonwealth about remuneration to parliamentarians.
He added that based on this “they will come up with what is the best remuneration package” and the perception in the media that MPs are seeking a pay increase is wrong.
Khan said this issue has not been discussed by Cabinet and “the Government has no position on that.” He also said that in seeking to get the best people to perform certain jobs, salary is not the only factor to consider. He said national commitment is another factor and one has to “strike a balance.” A circular issued to all MPs indicated that the job evaluation exercise across the Public Service began in March “and is scheduled to be completed within 12 months.” According to the circular from the clerk, the issue of a job evaluation arose for several reasons, including the “large number of requests for changes.” “Following the general reviews of salaries and other terms and conditions of service conducted by the SRC in 2008 and 2012, recommendations were made for the conduct of a job evaluation exercise of all offices within the purview of the commission,” the clerk said, citing correspondence from the acting Chief Personnel Officer.