LAWMAKERS’ REINSTATED SALARIES CALLED INTO QUESTION BY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

The content originally appeared on: The Anguillian Newspaper

In a formal Question Paper, Leader of the Opposition and Honourable Member for Sandy Hill, Mrs. Cora Richardson-Hodge, questioned the Premier’s decision – at this time – not to continue the 15% salary reductions for Legislators, Ministerial Assistants, and Special Advisors, or to consider applying the monies from the 15% salary cut to help decrease the high cost of health fees that had been imposed by the government in 2021 instead of adding it back to the salaries.
Mrs. Richardson-Hodge submitted the questions at the Twelfth Anguilla House of Assembly on Tuesday, February 15, in response to earlier comments made by a senior member of the APM administration, on a local radio programme, stating that Mrs. Richardson-Hodge was among others who were in favour of the government reinstating the 15% salary reduction.

The full text of the Question Paper read as follows:
WHEREAS, on 8th May 2020 in the Anguilla House of Assembly, the elected members of the HOA who were all members of the Anguilla United Front Administration, approved the Public Service Salaries Reduction Act, 2020 and agreed unanimously to cut the salaries of Government Ministers and Ministerial Assistants by 15% until 31st December 2020;

AND WHEREAS, the salary cut became effective at the end of May 2020;

AND WHEREAS, subsequent to the 2020 general elections, the elected members of Anguilla Progressive Movement, who subsequently formed the Government, continued the salary cut up to 31st December 2020;

AND WHEREAS, on 14th January 2021 the Honourable Premier Dr. Ellis Lorenzo Webster wrote to the Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Mrs. Cora Richardson Hodge, advising that the legislation to reduce legislators’ salaries by 15% expired on December 31st 2020 and that: (i) the Government would like to extend the 15% reduction for all legislators, Ministerial Assistants and Special Advisors for one year, and (ii) to deduct 5% from legislators, Ministerial Assistants and Special Advisors salaries to be placed in a special fund for social purposes;

AND WHEREAS, the Leader of the Opposition wrote to the Honourable Premier on 22nd January 2021 agreeing to the extension of legislation of the 15% reduction in salaries. The Leader of the Opposition further stated that the opposition members agreed to an additional 5% to be placed in a separate fund, and further discussion was needed as to how the fund would be used to help the people of Anguilla;

AND WHEREAS, the Honourable Premier responded on the same day of 22nd January 2021 thanking the Leader of the Opposition for her positive response and commitment and further advised that the Permanent Secretary of Finance would draft the paper for Executive Council;

AND WHEREAS, as at the date of this sitting of the HOA (15th February 2022), the Honourable Premier has not had any further discussion with the Leader of the Opposition with respect to the special fund for social purposes and the opposition members have been awaiting the details of the special fund for social purposes;

AND WHEREAS, the members of the opposition were surprised to hear an announcement made by the Honourable Premier at a Government press conference on Monday, 24th January 2022 informing that his Administration had decided not to renew the 15% decrease in legislators’ salaries for 2022;
AND WHEREAS, there has been no discussion or consultation with the members of the opposition about not continuing the 15% salary cut and the members of the opposition were not aware that this decision had been made by the Honourable Premier and his Government;

AND WHEREAS, in light of the continuing covid-19 pandemic, the difficult job market, the looming Goods and Services Tax to come into effect in July 2022 and the recent substantial increase in taxes and cost of living in Anguilla, the members of the opposition are of the view that this APM Administration should have continued the 15% decrease in salaries.

Can the Minister indicate to this Honourable House and to the people of Anguilla,

1. Why was the decision made at this time not to continue the 15% salary reduction for Legislators, Ministerial Assistants and Special Advisors?

2. Why was the special fund for social purposes, as discussed with the Leader of the Opposition in January 2021, not set up to help the people of Anguilla?

3. Did this Government consider applying the monies from the 15% salary cut to help to decrease the high cost of health fees that have been imposed by this Government in 2021 instead of adding it back to the salaries?