Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has, for the first time, addressed the payment being given by the State to three Members of Parliament (MP’s) of the New National Party (NNP) who are not Government Ministers.
The NNP won a landslide victory in the last February General elections by winning all 15 seats in the House of Representatives.
However, no place was made in the Cabinet of Ministers for Tobias Clement who won the St. George North East Constituency, Clifton Paul (St. Patrick’s East), and Yolande Bain-Horsford (St. Andrew’s South West).
Thomas who appeared on an independently produced radio programme last week Wednesday described the decision to pay the three MP’s from State resources as an abuse of the process.
The former Prime Minister described as “demeaning” the Office of being a Parliamentarian the move by the Keith Mitchell-led NNP administration to pay the three non-governmental Parliamentarians.
“This is a distortion of what Parliament is meant to be. A person does not have a responsibility or a job description and you’re using taxpayers’ money to just pay them,” he remarked.
Thomas told the host of the programme that when someone is being paid as a minister he has a responsibility of ministerial duties.
He indicated that provisions are there for MP’s to be given a stipend and not a salary to take care of their constituencies.
The former Prime Minister said it is not appropriate or fair to the nation to pay someone who has a job description and a great responsibility as compared to someone who does not have that responsibility.
At the swearing ceremony of the members of the new government last March, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell disclosed that all three Members of Parliament who are not among the group of ministers will be empowered to fulfill the expectations of their constituents.
“They will be given the resources to do the job that you, the people elected them to do. In that regard, we are currently looking at a construct that will allow us to increase the constituency allowances to the three Cabinet Members to do the work in their constituencies,” he told the swearing ceremony.
Of the three non-government MP’s, Clement is the only one believed to be fully employed elsewhere with St. George’s University (SGU) and is reported in some quarters to be earning a monthly salary of between US$5-8, 000.