|Laing produces pay slips in salary row|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jun 25, 2012
Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis maintained yesterday that Zhivargo Laing was paid $6,000 more than other junior ministers in the Ingraham Cabinet, despite the fact that Laing’s pay slips do not reflect that additional sum.
Laing produced his pay slips to The Nassau Guardian to show the breakdown of his pay while he was a minister.
The slips Laing presented were for November 2011, December 2011 and March 2012.
The pay slips show that Laing earned $60,000 as minister of state. He received a housing allowance of $36,000 ($3,000 per month); a duty allowance of $5,000 and an MP salary of $28,000 for a total of $129,000 annually.
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson recently brought up the issue in the Senate, claiming that Laing took home a salary of $135,000 per annum.
When asked if any current minister in the government is paid a housing allowance and how much, Halkitis said he would have to refer to the Treasury Department before commenting.
Laing has maintained that he got the same pay as the other former ministers of state in the Ingraham Cabinet — Loretta Butler-Turner, Phenton Neymour and Byran Woodside.
However, when she spoke in the Senate last week, Maynard-Gibson said the record reflects that those ministers were paid $93,000 per annum and Laing took home more.
Laing has explained that he received a housing allowance of $3,000 per month because he lives in Grand Bahama. He said other ministers in the Ingraham Cabinet who do not live in New Providence also received this allowance.
Former Minister of Public Works Neko Grant and former Housing Minister Kenneth Russell, who also live in Grand Bahama, said they also received a housing allowance of $3,000.
“They (PLP) are being intellectually dishonest,” Grant said yesterday. “If they have the proof then present it. There are no checks that are drawn by a minister.
“The Treasury draws the checks. So every check that the minister would have gotten (Laing), there should be a record in the Treasury. There is no secret.”
Russell said he does not understand why Laing is defending something he did not do.
“He didn’t pay himself,” he said. “The (former) minister of finance (Hubert Ingraham) did. That’s who needs to be defending this, not the minister of state.
“I think the route to go is to question the (former) minister of finance and find out why he paid the extra $6,000. You might find that it might have been a total mistake.”
Former PLP Minister of Health Dr. Marcus Bethel — who lives in Grand Bahama — confirmed yesterday that he was paid a housing allowance when he served in the first Christie Cabinet.
Although he was unable to give an exact amount, Bethel said it would have been the standard allowance given to all ministers at the time.