More retired legislators will now qualify for benefits following approval of amendments to the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Service) Act on Tuesday, January 29, in the House of Representatives.
The amendment provides for service as a parish councillor to be taken into account in determining the qualification of legislators for retiring allowances.
Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, who piloted the Bill, noted that at present, several retired legislators are not eligible for retiring allowances as under the law they lack the main service qualifications.
In order to qualify for retirement benefit, legislators are required to serve for two full parliamentary terms or for a period equal to the aggregate of no less than nine years.
Dr. Phillips argued, however, that if such persons have performed public service as parish councillors this should be treated as qualifying service for retiring benefit.
He stated that the amendment would widen the eligibility criteria for receipt of retirement allowances and increase the number of legislators who will be eligible for the benefit.
“I believe this corrects an anomaly which currently exists and in many ways serves to underscore that this parliament not only recognises services in the House but recognises that local government represents, indeed, a vital and indispensible element of the overall structure of governance in the country,” Dr. Phillips stated.
For his part, Opposition Spokesperson on finance, Audley Shaw, noted that the Bill receives the full support of the Opposition.