UPDATE: 'The increase will not be implemented,' says finance minister

September 26, 2023

Following reports that of an increase to the per meeting stipend granted to senators, finance minister Dr Nigel Clarke has announced that rate will remain unchanged. 

"I wish to make it clear that these increases will not be implemented. As such I have asked the Financial Secretary to write to the Clerk with instructions to rescind her letter," he said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

He said the Holness administration's policy is that the current rate should remain unchanged while a new basis for determining adjustments is finalised. There was no timeline. 

The correspondence from the Clerk followed from a Cabinet decision of 2008 that automatically pegged the stipend of senators to twice the highest fee paid to persons serving on the board of a public body Clarke explained. 

He said immediately before the 2008 decision, senators were being paid $1,000 per meeting and the highest public body board fee was $6,000 per meeting.

The highest board fee is currently $74,000.

"When public body board fees were last increased in 2019, Senate stipends were automatically adjusted as per the 2008 Cabinet decision and these took effect on April 1, 2020. Shortly thereafter, as Minister of Finance and the Public Service, I met with a bipartisan group of senators to discuss this administration's view of the unsustainability of this automatic peg and the likely unintended consequences," the minister said. 

Leader of Opposition Business Peter Bunting said his side registered its objection to the increases in a letter to the clerk on Monday. 

"We firmly believe that such a significant increase in stipend for Senators is neither justifiable nor appropriate, particularly at a time when crucial issues affecting essential public servants - such as police officers, healthcare workers, and teachers - remain unresolved," Bunting said.

Unlike their colleagues in the House of Representatives, senators are not paid a salary but get a fixed sum to offset some of their expenses to contribute to the Parliament's upper chamber. The Senate usually meets once per week. 

The Government has been pounded for months over the massive salary hikes for members of parliament and Cabinet ministers as most salaries surged past 200 per cent.

- Jovan Johnson

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