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Pension benefits for Ministers and Deputies to be debated

The pension benefits for Ministers and Deputies were yesterday laid on the table of Parliament by the Deputy Majority Leader Hon. Sheku Badara Bashiru Dumbuya.
In a letter from the Secretary to the President to the Clerk of Parliament, the Presidents’ Secretary E.B Osho Coker wrote with reference to a letter addressed to the President on June 30th, 2009 in relation to the pension benefits for Ministers and Deputies.
Mr. Osho Coker replied that pursuant to section 4 of the State Salaries, Pensions, Gratuities and other Benefits, he submitted the President’s comment.
He wrote that the President notes that section 2 of the statutory instrument No.4 of 2006 i.e. the state salaries (pension of Speaker and Members of Parliament) prescribes that the monthly pension shall be computed at the rate of forty percent and eighty percent of the gross salary for having served five years but less than ten years, and ten years or more respectively.
The Secretary to the President also wrote that the President commented that while the committee has modified the percentage in the case of Ministers and Deputies who have served for ten years or more, its main recommendation covers salaries plus allowances.
But he argued that even though it is presumed that a cue has been taken by the committee from the parent legislation in which the interpretation is that “salary” includes allowances, he drew attention to section 10 of the parent legislation which states “In addition to any pension paid or payable under this Act, there shall be paid to any person ceasing to be a Member of Parliament a gratuity equal to 17 percent of the cumulative total of all his salaries and allowances during the period served as Member of Parliament”
The letter further states that the above quotation clearly demonstrates that salaries and allowances are deemed to be distinct and separate although they are mutually reinforcing. “A glaring example is the case of former Ministers who occupied Government Quarters and were not receiving the monthly rental allowance of US$1,000. It means that those who were receiving this allowance would now have their pensions calculated on their gross salary plus rent and other allowances, allowing them to receive a better package”
Again, the Secretary to the President states further that if they are to go by the provisions of the statutory instrument, the President is inclined to think that the computation should be restricted to gross salary which would normally not include allowances “the inconsistency already pointed out makes it necessary for corrective action to be taken now, more so as the statutory instrument is about to be amended”
Hon. Ansu Kai-Kai of SLPP moved that the document laid on the table be debated at a time convenient by the Speaker and the House. Hon. Ibrahim Sorie of APC seconded the motion.
By Ishmael Bayoh

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