Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Senators' stipend hiked by 179%

Published:Tuesday | September 26, 2023 | 11:19 AM
Gordon House, home of Jamaica's Parliament in downtown Kingston.

The new stipend for members of the Senate is $148, 000 per sitting, a 179 per cent increase over the amount that was previously paid.

Unlike their colleagues in the House of Representatives, senators are not paid a salary but get a fixed sum to offset some of their expenses to contribute to the Parliament's upper chamber.

Clerk to the Houses of Parliament Valrie Curtis advised the leadership of the Senate of the new stipend and mileage rates earlier this month.

The previous stipend was approximately $53,000 per sitting. The Senate usually meets once per week. 

In a letter dated September 14, 2023, she noted a 2018 finance ministry directive which indicated that the stipend for senators is to be calculated at twice the rate of the highest fees paid to members of a government board.

The directive was based on a 2008 Cabinet decision which pegged senators' compensation to twice the highest level board fee in the public service. 

The highest board fee is now $74,000, according to Curtis's letter, which was addressed to President of the Senate Tom Tavares-Finson. It was copied to Leader of Government Business Kamina Johnson Smith and Leader of Opposition Business Peter Bunting.


Tavares-Finson and Bunting have confirmed receiving the clerk's letter.

The board fee took effect April 1, 2023.

Curtis said the new stipend rate also took effect on April 1 and is to be paid to senators who are not members of the Cabinet. The Constitution allows a maximum of four persons from the Senate to be ministers.

"The revised rate are payable subject to the availability of funds. We therefore wish to advise that while we will commence payment of the adjusted rate with immediate effect, we would not be able to facilitate retroactive payments during this month. All effort will be made to make all retroactive payments by December 2023," Curtis said.

The rate for mileage payments to senators has also increased to $100 per kilometre, effective December 1, 2022.

The Senate usually functions as a chamber that reviews legislation passed by the elected House of Representatives. The Senate may also initiate legislation, except ones relating to money.

The changes in the stipend and fees are part of the implementation of a new wage system for public sector workers.

The Government has been pounded for months over the massive salary hikes for members of parliament and Cabinet ministers as most salaries surged past 200 per cent.

Calls for a rollback, including from the Opposition People's National Party, have been rejected as the Government said the new system is important to incentivise performance.

Under the new compensation structure, public sector workers are guaranteed a minimum post-tax 20 per cent increase over three years, starting from April 2022.

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