THE NEW TODAY is in full support of the decision taken by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to give an across the board salary of EC$5,000 a month to all elected Members of Parliament.
This is long overdue and should have been done years ago by the so-called Father of the House, Dr. Keith Mitchell who served for over 25 years as Prime Minister of the country.
It is our long held view that elected MP’s should be paid a proper salary in keeping with their status and in order to limit the temptation of them engaging in corrupt and illegal activities to service their constituency and to face the electorate once again with confidence.
This $5000.00 salary will not only be made available to the ten members of the Lower House on the government side but the five opposition Members from the New National Party (NNP) – Dr. Keith Mitchell, Peter David, Emmalin Pierre, Kate Lewis and Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen.
The truth of the matter is that since the June 2022 change of government, the EC$10, 000 Constituency Allowance that was approved under the Keith Mitchell-led NNP administration has ceased to exist.
It is our understanding that Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell was forced to review the manner in which the funds were being handled.
The money was removed from under the Budget of Parliament and placed within the Office of the Prime Minister then under the control of Keith Mitchell for disbursement.
It is now public knowledge that a company operated by a prominent resident of Dr. Mitchell’s St George North-west constituency was contracted to perform the service at a fantastic fee.
It appears that PM Dickon Mitchell is planning to resume the EC$10,000 Constituency Allowance in the New Year but for it to be managed once again by Parliament.
This allowance should be brought back with some degree of urgency and with new guidelines being put in place.
THE NEW TODAY holds the view that each of the 15 MPs on the island should identify a project to take place in their constituency each month and to use the funds for its execution under the supervision of Parliament.
Former NNP Member Mark Isaac and ex-Opposition Leader Michael Baptiste had been clamouring for years for elected MPs to be paid a salary to perform the duties required of them in their respective constituencies.
Some Prime Ministers used the disparity in salaries for government ministers in the Lower House and those without any portfolio to keep them under control.
A minister who depends on his salary to meet commitments with financial institutions for home mortgage and vehicle is fearful to be critical of the Prime Minister who holds the Sword of Damocles over his head and can relegate him or her to the back-bench and a drop in salary from $8,000 to $1,200 a month.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to remind Grenadians that under the NNP government during the 2013-18 period one of its elected Members was earning more money than members of the Cabinet of Ministers.
This MP who was not given a Cabinet position was getting a salary of approximately $13,000 from his place of employment in the private sector plus the $7,000 salary given to all Members of Parliament along with the perks.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to make some passing comments on the decision taken by the Magistrate in St David to grant bail to a man who was charged by the police for having in his possession five illegal firearms.
This has quite rightly sparked a great deal of debate in the country at a time when Grenada has been witnessing an increasing use of illegal firearms to engage in criminal activities including murder.
The Magistrate has a right to use her discretion in granting bail depending on the case put forward by the defense lawyer and also that of the Police Prosecutor.
Equally important is the fact that the Magistrate should be aware of the sentiments in the country that every effort should be made by all and sundry to ensure that Grenada avoids the pitfall of our neighbours like Trinidad, St. Vincent and St Lucia where gun violence is becoming the norm.
This individual was not caught with just one illegal firearm in his possession but five and the Police need to investigate further to determine whether the suspect is an arms dealer or is hiring the guns to those who are engaged in illegal activities.
The Magistrate should have sent him to the Richmond Hill prison and if the defense lawyer wanted bail for his client then make the necessary application to a high court judge in Chambers.
The recent upsurge in the use of firearms on the island to commit crimes should force our legislators in Parliament to amend the law to provide for much stiffer penalties for offenders.
THE NEW TODAY is suggesting that anyone caught with an illegal firearm should be refused bail and on conviction be subjected to a fine no less than EC$10,000.