Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Ganga Persaud revealed on Tuesday that former minister Clinton Collymore is employed as an advisor to him and is earning $362,000 a month in salary and allowances.
The former minister is paid a sum of $302,661 in addition to being provided with allowances for meals, a gardener and a maid. Persaud was reluctant to reveal the name of the former minister and only did so when Speaker Raphael Trotman ruled that the query was a valid one that should be accommodated.
Asked how much his allowances cost taxpayers, Minister Persaud said that the former minister receives $25,000 for meals, $25,000 for a gardener and $10,000 as duty allowance. He said that as an advisor, Collymore is also entitled to a maid.
Asked who the former minister was advising, Persaud said the present Minister of Local Government. It is believed too that former minister Harripersaud Nokta is receiving a package in the neighbourhood of that of his colleague Collymore. But the opposition missed the chance to grill Persaud on this when the agency head under which Nokta is employed was examined already.
Dr. Verasammy Ramaya asked, “What was the position of former Minister Nokta? What is his salary and what are the ‘French’ (fringe) benefits of the post?”
To this, Persaud said that Nokta was employed under another agency head of the Ministry and therefore he could not address the query at that time.
Jaipaul Sharma of the APNU asked the gratuity and vacation allowance of a contracted employee at the Ministry were and whether that person was entitled to a vehicle. In responding to this question, Minister Persaud said that the gratuity of the contracted employee was 22 and a half percent of earnings and vacation allowance is one month’s salary.
Ronald Bulkan of the APNU asked whether the position for Permanent Secretary was advertised prior to it being filled. To this, Persaud said the ministry does not advertise for post of Permanent Secretary. “As the need arises, we source persons with the competence and skills to fill these positions,” he explained.
Members of the opposition heckled Persaud and quipped that the Ministry of Local Government is the only ministry in which there are four ministers, referring to Persaud, Junior Minister Norman Whittaker as well as Collymore and Nokta.
Persaud also revealed that Regional Chairmen receive a salary of $218,278, while Regional Vice Chairmen receive $163,709 and Regional Executive Officers $247,526.
Moses Nagamootoo of the AFC asked when will legislation be passed to address solid waste management and the Minister said that this year such legislation will be addressed.
Regarding concerns that the opposition members raised about the proper management of medical waste at the Haags Bosch waste management facility, Persaud said that the Ministry was prepared to sit and listen to those concerns. To this, Speaker Trotman suggested that the minister organise a tour of the facility with the relevant experts to address these concerns. To this the minister was amenable and said that such a tour could be arranged with two days’ notice to the ministry.
The opposition members also had concerns about the high cost of security services to the ministry. Persaud explained that the cost of security went up because of the fact that the ministry took over the provision of security for the compound, which it shares with the Ministry of Public Works and which previously was responsible for providing security.
Following the questioning, the allocations for the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development were subsequently approved.