Virgin Islands Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) has affirmed that as soon as he returns from a planned trip to London, the offending sections of the Retiring Allowances Legislative Service Amendment Act 2021 nicknamed the ‘Greedy Bill’ will be repealed.
The Premier was at the time speaking at a press conference and General Update today, May 2, 2023, on matters in the VI.
“Soon at the cabinet meeting, perhaps after I return from London, we will have a Cabinet paper which will put forward a decision to have the offending sections of that act repealed.”
He added, “But as the Attorney General [Dawn J. Smith] reminded us, and when we had the recalled House of Assembly, it's important for us to go through the legislative process, so we don't want to make mistakes and we don't want to skip steps,” he added.
He assured, however, that as soon as he returns from his trip, a decision to repeal the offending sections of the Legislative Retirement Allowances Act will be made, in keeping with promises made in the 2023 elections campaign trail in the VI.
Ahead of the April 24, 2023 Elections, a decision was taken to not repeal the bill at a recalled House of Assembly on advice of the Attorney General.
The Retiring Allowances Legislative
Service Amendment Act 2021, nicknamed the ‘Greedy Bill’, became a hot
topic during the 2023 campaign trail.
Problematic parts of the bill
Problematic parts of the legislation, according to critics, included sections that specify if a legislator has served three terms in the House of Assembly, that legislator receives a gratuity in the amount of $250,000-300,000 immediately upon retirement if they are 50 years or older.
Further, three-term legislators would receive his or her current salary per month for a fixed number of years as if they were working.
The Premier added that for persons already entitled to benefits, legal advice would be sought since those persons cannot be disenfranchised.
“That is something that we're going to need legal advice on, persons who have already become entitled to benefits. We certainly don't want to disenfranchise anyone from a legal perspective and taking away rights, which they have already earned.
He added, “but for me, the ideal situation is to come up with salaries from an independent body... Pricewaterhouse Coopers is currently conducting a review of salaries and we would want for them to recommend salaries for legislators, which is commensurate with the roles and responsibilities and also takes into consideration all other professions,” he said.