In keeping with the PPP decision not to accept a salary increase for its Members of Parliament (MPs), Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that the additional money is being deposited into a bank account.
In response to questions asked by Stabroek News during a press conference at his Church Street office, Jagdeo informed that the party has an account at a commercial bank; he was unable to say which one. “I can’t tell you exactly how much money is in the bank account but it is a requirement that I know that our MPs are deducting the money and sending it to that bank account”, he said.
Asked what the party plans to do with the money, Jagdeo said that no decision has yet been made. He assured that “not a cent has been spent from the time the increase was paid out”.
Shortly after taking office in May 2015, government announced an increase in salaries for all ministers as well as MPs.
Members of Parliament without a designation saw a 20% salary increase, taking their annual salaries from $2,002,116 to $2,402,532. Parliamentary secretaries and the Chief Whip now earn over 12% more, taking their salaries from $3,336,876 and $2,384,328 to $3,753,984 and $2,682,360 respectively. The Deputy Speaker now earns $2,702,880, just under a $300,000 annual increase.
President David Granger had defended the salary hikes, which range as high as 50% for those in Cabinet, calling the move an investment in quality governance.
The increases, which were quietly gazetted without a public announcement, had been met with stiff opposition, particularly since the coalition had promised “significant increases” for public servants during its election campaign, but only delivered a 5% increase in its first national budget.