Thu | Sep 28, 2023

East Portland's Vaz pledges her salary increase to assist Musgrave Market fire victims

Published:Monday | May 29, 2023 | 3:00 PMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer -
A section of the Musgrave Market in Portland, which was gutted by fire on Sunday.
A section of the Musgrave Market in Portland, which was gutted by fire on Sunday.

Port Antonio, Portland

Vendors at the Musgrave Market in Portland, who were ravaged by fire on Sunday, could be getting some financial help to assist with their livelihood, following a commitment given by East Portland Member of Parliament (MP) Ann-Marie Vaz.

Vaz, speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, said that in order to ensure that the affected vendors are not left without the ability to earn from their livelihood, she is willing to give up the increase on her new salary to those that suffered losses.

In an immediate response to the devastating fire, which gutted three buildings along West Street in Port Antonio, Vaz pointed out that she along with her husband, Daryl Vaz, who is the MP for the neighbouring constituency of West Portland, have decided to cut their personal overseas trip short in order to return to Portland to coordinate the response to what she described as a massive loss.

“We are both off the island on a personal trip and have decided to cut it short to return to coordinate response to this devastating tragedy, “she said. “We have big plans to help the victims of the market fire and to rebuild the space for the current activities being done there. We will visit and assess the market and approach it as a private-public partnership to rebuild the space and assist those affected with compassionate grants, in order to ease the immediate and short-term burdens they face.

“The tragedy that has been brought upon the vendors in the market breaks my heart. The additional sum that the Government has added to my salary, the entire amount, will be donated to ensure that every one of you can get back on your feet. I feel your pain and I am committing to provide you all with valuable assistance as we work together for the good of the constituency, “she added.

Approximately 150 vendors have been displaced at the Musgrave Market in Port Antonio after fire of unknown origin gutted the entire market along with two other buildings - a supermarket and a jewelry, furniture and appliance store, along West Street on Sunday.

The East Portland MP's decision to donate her salary increase to the affected vendors comes on the heels of Prime Minister Andrew Holness' announcement last week that he would not be taking his salary increase which would have seen his annual pay balloon to $28.6 million in April 2024. Instead, he will remain at his current salary of approximately $9 million.

Vaz will see her salary as a member of parliament move from just over $4 million per annum to $12.5 million as of April 2023 and just over $14 million in 2024.