Without any official order to donate their salary, Members of Parliament on both sides have been contributing out of pocket to their constituents.
Minister of Health St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh, said he had given just about 50 per cent of his salary in the past two months.
“I have given out, about $20,000 in the past month to supplement what the Government is doing with food cards and so on, that works out to about 50 per cent,” said Deyalsingh before entering the Red House on Monday.
Port of Spain North/Ann’s West MP Stuart Young did not give a figure, but similarly said he had been making personal contributions.
“Absolutely, I have taken personal funds to buy a number of hampers, I’ve also gotten a number of donations, I’ve gifted I think about 200 hampers and I’m now trying to give out some bulk food for my constituency,” said the National Security Minister.
“Not all came from salary but I did give a substantial portion of my salary and I will continue to do so.”
St Ann’s East MP Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said she had been giving a percentage of her salary since 2016.
“Since we have had to do this since 2016 we have had to give a contribution. I have not stopped that contribution, so that has been ongoing and as any MP we would always put out, wherever you have a lot we will always put out and make sure that you have enough. In St Ann’s East we have done close to 600 hampers, it’s taken a lot of personal sacrifice from myself as well as other members of the team,” she said.
Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said there had been no order by the UNC to its MPs to make a salary donation, but said most MPs had been making significant contributions regardless.
“The opposition members have been busy involved with preparing hampers, preparing masks. My constituency has prepared and distributed over 1000 masks. We do hamper programs, every single day with groceries, we used to distribute baby food, a major catchment area is small children,” he said. “We have been doing that all the time, a lot of it comes from our pocket.” he added
His colleague, St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar agreed that the monetary contributions by MPs was not new.
“This is nothing new to me, for a long long period we have been making donations. And in fact you would have seen in relation to the students in Barbados I would have underwritten the expenditure for the groceries for all of them,” he said.
“And we continue every day to make contributions for food and for other things. So this is nothing new. That is the life of a Member of Parliament, in Government or even out of government.”
Both Ramadhar and Moonilal, however, said they were yet to come across someone who had successfully received a salary relief grant from the Government.
“Reports that we are getting is that we know of no one who has actually succeeded on that yet. It may be that some have but they have not come to us. It’s only those who have not succeeded who have come to us,” he said.
Moonilal also expressed frustration that several questions raised by the opposition were not taken up for debate in yesterday’s sitting of the House of Representatives.