Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Kenny Anthony has denied that government ministers plan to or have taken a 30-percent salary increase, noting that it has been 14 years since ministers last received a salary increase.
In his address to the nation Wednesday night, Dr. Anthony explained that since 1999, the salaries of the prime minister, ministers, parliamentary secretaries and the leader of the opposition have been set as follows:
– The prime minister receives a basic salary of $11,404.17, and total allowances of $1,324.00, providing a total monthly emolument of $12,728.17. I should add that the prime minister’s utility bills are paid by the state and he is provided with a gardener and a maid.
– A minister receives a basic salary of $7,671.75 and total allowances of $3,054.00, providing a total monthly emolument of $10,815.75.
– A parliamentary secretary receives a basic salary of $5,103.50 and total monthly allowances of $2,217.17, providing a total monthly emolument of $7,330.67.
– The leader of the opposition receives the equivalent of a minister’s salary. He receives a basic salary of $7.761.75. The position also benefits from a total monthly allowance of $3,054.00, thereby providing a total emolument of $10,815.75 per month.
– Other elected members of the House of Assembly receive a monthly salary of $3,402.00, allowances totalling $1,551.00, providing a total emolument of $4,953.00.
The prime minister said these figures are “easily verifiable in the Annual Estimates of Expenditure as approved by Parliament”, and noted that all of these salaries are subject to taxation.
“Over the past 14 years, there has been no revision, change or increase in the salaries of the prime minister and the ministers of government. However, during that period, the salaries of rank and file public officers, those between Grades 1 and 18, have increased by 33.5 percent,” he pointed out.
“The prime minister and ministers of the Saint Lucia Labour Party government have not received any increases in salaries and allowances since coming into office in December 2011. I will repeat so that there is no misunderstanding – the prime minister and ministers of the Saint Lucia Labour Party government have not received any increases in salaries and allowances since coming into office in December 2011. While the Salaries Review Commission has submitted two draft reports to the government, and it makes recommendations for an increase, the work of the Commission has not finished so there are no reports to be tabled in Parliament,” he added.
The prime minister said as difficult as this situation is for members of the Cabinet, they recognize that this is not the time to accept an increase in salary.
“Our country simply cannot afford it. The Cabinet of ministers appreciates that it has to lead from the front and by example. Thus, despite the fact that it has been 14 years since the last salary increase for ministers and that ministers are currently paid significantly less than some senior public officers who work within the ministries under their purviews, the Cabinet of ministers agreed that it would not accept any increases in salary until the fiscal situation in the country permits such payments.
“So, when we asked the public officers to accept a wage freeze and a $1,000 lump sum payment, it was with the full understanding that we as a Cabinet would also be accepting a wage freeze, except ours was without any form of lump sum payment or increase in allowances,” he added.