No pay hike for state officials; Cabinet sends back SRC report saying it’s “unacceptable”

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No pay hike for state officials; Cabinet sends back SRC report saying it’s “unacceptable”

Cabinet has sent back the Salaries Review Commission’s (SRC) report to the organisation, saying it was “unacceptable”.

The report contained proposals for salary increases.

But, speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said there were anomalies with the report and the SRC now has to review the concerns flagged.

This means there will be no pay increase for the Prime Minister and other senior State officials for now.

Imbert said: “Regarding the 117th report of the SRC itself, there are several obvious anomalies that have arisen out of this job evaluation exercise and compensation survey.”

He contended that following consideration, there were views from Cabinet that the report was flawed.

“It is unclear how SRC and its consultants and focus groups/committees arrived at these results. In some instances, the recommendations appear to be irrational on the face of it. It appears that the foreign consultants employed by the SRC were not au courant with the full range of the duties, responsibilities, challenges, decision-making, and impact in Trinidad and Tobago of several persons under the purview of the SRC. In some cases, there was insufficient consultation with stakeholders,” he explained.

Among those taking issue with the SRC’s report is Chief Justice Ivor Archie. In a letter to the Prime Minister dated February 27, 2024, the CJ identified several issues which were relayed by the Finance Minister.

“Our consideration of the 117th SRC Report reveals that the Report is opaque in its methodology, replete with internal inconsistencies, devoid of justifications for its recommendations for the Higher Judiciary and other Judicial Offices, premised on flawed, misleading and, in some cases, plainly wrong assumptions, formulated based on the application of irrelevant, unreliable and/or unexplained considerations, and the product of a fundamentally flawed process that fails to adhere to basic principles of natural justice.

“The SRC’s approach is in direct contradiction to the Latimer House guidelines to which this country has publicly subscribed. Those guidelines mandate that, as a matter of principle, judicial salaries and benefits should be set by an independent body and their value should be maintained,” read Imbert.

Imbert added that duty allowances had been abolished and incorporated into salaries, which could adversely affect the approach to duty or on-call hours associated with several senior and important positions, which were presumed to be 24/7 in the past. He said it was necessary to alert the SRC to the list of inconsistencies and that a revised report be prepared.

“It is expected that this exercise can be completed within two months. However, if within two months, serious anomalies still exist in the revised recommendations of the SRC, the Cabinet will make appropriate and reasonable adjustments to the recommendations in this 117th Report,” he said.

The Finance Minister’s statements came weeks after he laid the SRC’s findings in Parliament, which recommended a more than 30 per cent salary hike for various office holders.

This was followed by public outrage and debate over the timeliness of the proposed pay increases, with several unions calling for the State officials to get the same four per cent increase as public servants.