Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Arthur Williams has responded to statements in the media concerning payments to Members of Parliament in respect of outstanding motor vehicle allowances.
Senator Williams said that it is totally unfair to link this payment to salary increases outstanding to public sector workers because of the wage freeze, as Members of Parliament, like other public sector workers are also subject to the wage freeze.
Senator Williams said that it must be remembered that not only were MPs, subject to the wage freeze, but that Government MPs have given up 10% of their salary and in the case of the Prime Minister 15% of his salary, as recognition of the sacrifice that we all must make.
Senator Williams said that the payments to MPs relate to outstanding motor vehicle allowances due to Members of Parliament going back to April 1, 2006 and that the Parliamentarians are the only group in the public service of Jamaica who did not receive payment for the allowances due in 2006.
Senator Williams gave a breakdown of the persons to whom the amount of $32.2 is owed, as follows:
i) to 19 former MPs in the last Parliament, for the period Aril 2006 to the time of the general elections in September 2007. Of this group, 7 are owed for mileage only and the other 12 for both mileage and upkeep. Senator Williams said that this includes payment to be made to the estate of two members who are now deceased.
ii) to 18 MPs who first became MPs in September 2007 for the period September 2007 to the present time. Of this group, 5 are owed for mileage only and the other 13 for both mileage and upkeep; and to
iii) 37 MPs, who spanned both Parliaments, for the period April 2006 to the present time. Of this group, 13 are owed for mileage only and 24 for both mileage and upkeep.
Senator Williams said that all public sector workers have received the allowances due to them from 2006 and that the only outstanding amount for general allowances to public sector workers are for the 2008 to 2010 contract period. He said that Government has paid $1.65B of the $3.1B that was outstanding for general allowances for the 2008 to 2010 contract period and intends to pay the balance at the earliest possible time.