Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Davies says increase to MPs 89% and not 103%
TONY LOWRIE, Obsever staff reporter
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

FINANCE Minister Omar Davies told Parliament yesterday that the increase granted to parliamentarians over a three-year period was 89 per cent, and not 103 per cent as earlier reported.

"From 1999 to date, the salary of permanent secretaries moved by 89 per cent and not 103 per cent, from just under $2 million in 1999 to a maximum of $3.7 million in 2002," and "during that same period the salary of parliamentarians moved by a similar percentage", according to a ministry paper tabled in the House by the minister.

In his presentation to the House, Davies said that on April 1, 1999 the salary of a permanent secretary stood at $1.9 million and that there was a four per cent increase in April 2002, taking it to $2 million. He said that in 2001 permanent secretaries' salaries were increased by six per cent, adding that "during that year, there was a pay adjustment because of an anomaly which came about as a result of implementation of a new classification and pay plan for scientific and technical positions in the (civil) service".

The finance minister explained that the new classification and pay plan was necessary due to the following factors:

* the inability to recruit and retain suitably qualified persons to fill the positions;

* the high level of attrition of persons from this category mainly due to the low pay rates. (The vacancy levels ranged from 50% to 60%.)

Davies said that the anomaly adjustment increased the salaries by 63 per cent, inclusive of the six per cent that was approved for 2001. "This," he said, "took the salary of permanent secretaries at the maximum up to $3.7 million", an increase of 89 per cent from $1.9 million in 1999, with the salaries of parliamentarians moving by a similar percentage.

The finance minister also told the House that the matter of low pay rates for civil service employees compared with other public sector entities and the private sector became a major issue in wage and fringe benefits negotiations and that an agreement was reached with the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) to move the salaries to within 80 per cent of market.

He said that Coopers and Lybrand was engaged to study the problem and recommend an implementation path for reaching this objective.

Davies said that following on the Coopers and Lybrand study, an agreement was reached with the JCSA for the implementation of pay adjustments over the period 2000 to 2005 as follows:

* salary increase of four per cent, with effect from April 1, 2000 and a further increase of four per cent, with effect from April 1, 2001;

* the market pay adjustments to be implemented as follows:

October 1, 2002 - first tranche of 20% of the adjustment

April 1, 2003 - second tranche of 20% of the adjustment

April 1, 2004 - third tranche of 30% of the adjustment

April 1, 2005 - final tranche of the remaining 30% of the adjustment.

According to the finance minister, the final adjustment to be effected April 1, 2005 is projected to take the pay of permanent secretaries, inclusive of increments, to $4.5 million from the current level of $3.7 million. He said that, based on the proposed adjustments, the salary of a member of parliament would in 2005 be $2.8 million, a Cabinet minister would receive $4.5 million and the prime minister $6 million.

Prime Minister P J Patterson, however, instructed last week that the increases scheduled for April 1, 2003 onward be put on hold pending a report from the committee established to review the salary and emoluments of parliamentarians.