The Department of the Legislature is hoping that, by the end of business today, Thursday, April 6, the five new parliamentarians elected to the House of Representatives on the United Progressive Party (UPP) ticket will have received at least their first salary payment.
In an outing on Facts, Not Fiction, this morning, Algernon “Serpent” Watts, the St. George MP, told the Progressive FM audience that neither he nor his freshman colleagues have received a penny since they were elected to office on January 18.
Since that date, they have made four official appearances in the Lower House, including their swearing-in; the Throne Speech; Budget Presentation; and Budget Debate. They are also expected back in the House on Monday, April 17, for a regular sitting.
Watts confirms to REAL News that the new MPs were asked for their banking details and that these were submitted to the Department of the Legislature “quite some time ago.” However, he says, they have not received either an explanation or an apology for the non-payment, to date.
REAL News has since learned that, due to an administrative misunderstanding at the Treasury Department, payments for these MPs had not been processed. However, the matter was expected to have been sorted by today, April 6, enabling them – at least – to perform online banking and ATM transactions.
During the interview, Watts said he was most concerned for colleague MP Kelvin “Shugy” Simon, since he had been required to resign his job ahead of the elections – and, therefore, has been without an income for several months.
Our Newsroom inquired of Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle whether his salary payments are up to date, and he confirmed that they are. He credits this to the fact that he is a returning MP, but notes that he, too, had a considerable wait to be paid when he was first elected.
Meanwhile, word just coming to hand says the UPP senators, too, are in the same position.
In this case, however, Minority Leader Shawn Nicholas says that neither of the two returning members – Senator Johnathan Joseph and herself – nor returning Barbuda Senator Fabian Jones has been paid since the new parliamentary session began.
Further, she reports that a check at the ATM this afternoon confirmed that the Treasury had not rectified the situation.