Paula-Mae to get $1.4m pension

T&T Pres­i­dent Paula-Mae Weekes will stand to col­lect a pen­sion of $1.4m an­nu­al­ly un­der Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed pen­sion amend­ments, UNC Sen­a­tor Wade Mark said yes­ter­day.

He said the Op­po­si­tion had cal­cu­lat­ed the ben­e­fits to be ac­crued un­der the pen­sion amend­ment pro­posed by Gov­ern­ment for in­creased pen­sions for the Prime Min­is­ter, Pres­i­dent, judges and leg­is­la­tors.

This was part of the pack­age of amend­ments pre­sent­ed in the Sen­ate yes­ter­day. It in­volved the Tax amnesty along with amend­ments to laws on pen­sions NIS, Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion, Cen­tral Bank and Non-Prof­it or­gan­i­sa­tions. It was passed in the Low­er House last week.

Sen­a­tor Mark, main­tain­ing Op­po­si­tion ob­jec­tions to the Bill, said it would be test­ed in the courts. He said the Op­po­si­tion would pro­pose amend­ments to delete pen­sion in­creas­es for the Prime Min­is­ter, Pres­i­dent, judges and leg­is­la­tors whom he said were a cho­sen few. “It’s ob­scene and greedy to bring this now.”

He said the past gov­ern­ment with­drew sim­i­lar pro­pos­als due to pub­lic con­cern. Mark queried why no pen­sion in­creas­es were pro­posed for the coun­try’s 28,000 dai­ly-rat­ed work­ers. Mark said the Salaries Re­view Com­mis­sion man­dat­ed a re­port on pen­sions. “We’re wait­ing for that al­though Gov­ern­ment’s feath­er­ing its own nest,” he said.

He not­ed pen­sion in­creas­es would ap­ply to Gov­ern­ment/Cab­i­net min­is­ters, non-Cab­i­net min­is­ters and the Sen­ate Vice Pres­i­dent. But he said it would not ap­ply to Gov­ern­ment non- port­fo­lio back­benchers, in­de­pen­dent or Op­po­si­tion sen­a­tors. Mark said for­mer in­de­pen­dent sen­a­tor Louise Horne who served 15 years, is now in an Ari­ma se­nior cit­i­zens’ home and “re­tired sen­a­tors should qual­i­fy al­so.”

On the Cen­tral Bank amend­ment to get CBTT in­for­ma­tion, he said this was be­cause Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert had a vendet­ta against for­mer CBTT gov­er­nor Jwala Ram­baran who want­ed “mil­lions.”

Im­bert said the pen­sion as­pect was need­ed to as­sist for­mer Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans such as a for­mer UNC MP whom he said had to sell his house to han­dle med­ical bills for his wife and him­self. He al­so high­light­ed a for­mer PNM Min­is­ter who left in 1995 af­ter two terms and who’s now bedrid­den, ob­tain­ing on­ly a $4,500 pen­sion.

He said a for­mer Chief Jus­tice had to split his $10,000 pen­sion be­tween fam­i­ly ex­pens­es and med­ical bills, a for­mer judge “lived and died in pover­ty” and a 1981 (PNM) Cab­i­net min­is­ter who had suf­fered a stroke lived on a “pit­tance.”

He said Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar had ex­pressed in­ter­est in as­pects of the bill on for­mer prime min­is­ters with gra­tu­ity since she had tak­en three quar­ters lump­sum pen­sion and a gra­tu­ity.

Reporter: Gail Alexander


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