Former Education Minister, Myron Walwyn, has once again refuted claims by Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley that he (Walwyn) was being deceitful over comments about a partial repeal of the Pension Act instituted by lawmakers two years ago.
Walwyn explained in a recent interview with the Cut Deep show that a report on the emoluments of legislators was commissioned during his time in government with the National Democratic Party (NDP). However, he said the recommendation from that report for lawmakers to receive a pension on both their salary and allowances was not implemented before he left office.
Under the Virgin Islands
Party (VIP) government led by former Premier Andrew Fahie
, however, Walwyn said a number of different measures were added to that recommendation and taken to the House of Assembly (HOA) before being passed into law as new provisions in the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Services) Amendment Act, 2021 — more commonly referred to as the Greedy Bill.
Walwyn said the money he received as part of his pension after the new Act was passed, was the same received by every other legislator that had served two terms in office.
They want to ring my tail
According to Walwyn, lawmakers who serve for a single term were previously eligible for a gratuity payment, which he said is equivalent to one year’s salary. However, he explained that, with the provisions of the new Act, first term lawmakers are now expected to be paid a full two-year salary, even if they are no longer in office.
He further explained that two-term lawmakers get a gratuity and pension upon retirement, in addition to two years of salary, even if they are not re-elected.
“If you serve three terms, you get that same figure he call out for me [$276,274.50], and your pension, plus your salary every month for three years. If you serve four or five terms, you get that same money he call out for me, plus your pension, plus your salary every month for four years, as if you’re working,” Walwyn said.
“That is why I have a problem with the second part of the [law]. You shouldn’t be getting no money when you are not working,” the former Education Minister said. “It is wrong. And because I call it out and I explained it in a way that people could understand, they want to ring my tail, but my tail hard to ring. I don’t understand.”
Walwyn argued that it was nefarious for the premier to suggest that Walwyn received money that he had no role in deciding upon.
“You [Dr Wheatley] were the one who brought the bill. When the bill came to the House, I was not a member of the House,” he argued. “So, it’s almost like you pass a law to benefit other people and you turn around and cuss the same people who benefit from the law, ’tis you pass it.”
Walwyn said the changes to the law offends his conscience and argued that the mere fact that the premier said he will repeal the bill, suggests that the premier knows that the government did something wrong by passing the law.
He added that, even with the premier’s promise of a repeal, any lawmaker who is currently serving remains eligible for a provision that will see them being paid a salary for another two years, even if they are never elected to another term in office.