Gov’t aborts plans to hike senators’ pay

September 27, 2023

Plans to increase the fees paid to senators have been put on ice following a call by the parliamentary Opposition for a suspension in the hike.

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Peter Bunting said the staggering $148,000 per meeting, up $53,000, was "neither justifiable nor appropriate".

"Our concerns revolve around the size of this increase, its timing, and its obvious insensitivity to the current national context," Bunting said in a metter to Valrie Curtis, clerk of the Houses of Parliament.

However, hours after Bunting issued a media release on the issue, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke said the "increases will not be implemented".

The stipend paid to senators in 2016 was $17,000. It was then increased to $53,000 in 2020. Clark said the stipend paid to senators was indexed to the highest fee paid for service as a board director on a public body board.

He said the Government's position is that the stipend paid to senators will remain unchanged, even with further upward adjustments of board fees, while a new basis for determining Senate stipend adjustments is finalised.

Clarke said that prior to a 2008 Cabinet decision that pegged the salaries of senators to board members, the senators were being paid $1,000 per meeting, while the highest public body board fee was $6,000 per meeting.

Jamaica's Constitution allows for 21 persons to be nominated to the Senate, where they serve as legislators. There are 13 government senators and eight opposition senators.

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