I won’t collect a dime from ‘greedy bill’ payouts — Premier
Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has vowed that he will not accept any money deriving from what residents have been calling the ‘greedy bill’.
While speaking at a political debate forum held at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) last evening, the premier once again reminded persons that he has already gone on record as acknowledging that his support for the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Services) Amendment Act, 2021 had been a mistake.
Opponents have flayed the law passed by the Premier’s Virgin Islands Party (VIP) over its numerous excesses doled out to lawmakers as part of a dubious pension scheme.
“I’m going to man up and I’m going to say that was a mistake and I’m going to man up as well and say, I will not collect a dime,” Dr Wheatley said. “I will not collect a dime on that Retirement Act in its current form and I intend, God willing, [if] I’m given the opportunity, to repeal the entire bill.”
It is the first time the premier has publicly assured residents — since first promising on the campaign trail to repeal the law if re-elected — that he will not seek to benefit from the legislation that reward lawmakers with lump sum payments, gratuity and guaranteed salaries for years after they are voted out of office, after serving as first-term legislators.
Dr Wheatley and other party leaders were asked why nothing was clearly and articulately stated by any lawmaker involved when the bill was first passed two years ago.
“I’ve gone on record in saying that my support for the [Retiring Allowances] Act was a mistake,” Premier Wheatley said in response. “And if you can’t — being a new legislator and being someone new to politics — go through four-year terms or four years without being able to admit that you’ve made some mistakes, [then] I don’t think you’re introspective enough.”
I won’t be silent
Meanwhile, Premier Wheatley has promised that he won’t be silent on any future wrongdoings committed by any lawmakers, arguing that he has learnt from the mistakes that he has made and these have made him a better leader.
“When you make a mistake, you have a choice,” Dr Wheatley stated. “You can allow that mistake to make you feel guilty, to make you feel broken down as though you can’t contribute to anything, or you can use that mistake as a means of becoming a better person. And that is what I’ve done, and that’s what I’m committed to doing.”
“You won’t see me being silent when anything wrong is taking place moving forward,” the premier said to loud applause from the audience.
As part of his solution to the current challenge, the premier has already proposed that lawmakers should not determine their own salaries and pensions. He emphasised that he felt that such determinations should be made by an independent body and argued that lawmakers should instead be paid something which is commensurate with their roles and responsibilities.