After it was initially disallowed because the Order for salary increases for government ministers and parliamentarians had not yet been laid in the National Assembly, the PPP/C can now resubmit its motion which calls for a reversal of the salary hikes, Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs has said.
He told Stabroek News that he has written to opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira notifying her that she can resubmit the motion. Isaacs said that after consulting with his staff and researching, he felt that the opposition could resubmit the motion and there was precedent for this.
The PPP/C wanted the motion to be placed on the Order Paper on October 22, 2015 but this was not allowed by Isaacs. He had explained that the motion cannot be laid until after the Order, made by the Minister of Finance and issued under Ministers, Members of the National Assembly and Special Offices (Emoluments) Act, was laid in the House. The Order has since been laid.
Up to 40 days is provided for the Order to be challenged and this period would expire on December 1. However, government postponed the November 11 sitting of the House and with no date set for the next sitting, the opposition has expressed concern that the period allowed for the challenge would expire.
Teixeira told Stabroek News yesterday that she was in receipt of Issacs’ communication and the party is satisfied with his decision but other legal aspects needed to be discussed further.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan laid the Order, which caters for a 50% increase in the salary paid to senior Cabinet Ministers, as well as increases for junior ministers, MPs, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, and the Prime Minister, in the House on October 22.
Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo during the last sitting of the National Assembly had argued that the payment of the increases contravened the law as the relevant order had not yet been laid in Parliament.
“The Government, by hastily paying these increases in salaries to themselves, is clearly subverting the role of the National Assembly, violating the Standing Orders and contravening the law. All of this is designed to defeat the PPP/C’s efforts to challenge these unconscionable salary increases in the National Assembly,” he said in a statement, while noting that the decision to pay the salary increases was done clandestinely.
“We are again witnessing similar trickery and deception. But this will not stop us from proceeding with our Motion in the National Assembly and from pursuing every other available avenue to annul and reverse these reprehensible salary increases which we now realize have been paid in violation of the law and Parliamentary norms and practices,” he added.
The PPP/C motion had called for the National Assembly to annul The Ministers, Members of the National Assembly and Special Offices (Emolu-ments) Order No.16 of 2015, which caters for the increase.