Damn, Darryl! Rowley’s election announcement stumps Smith’s pension plan

EPL Infrafred Sauna

So the Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley has dissolved parliament and called for general elections. On 10 August, our nations go to the polls to determine who will govern us for the next five-year period.

While the pending election should provoke excitement nationwide, at least one individual may be feeling very sour about the election date. That person would be the outgoing MP for Diego Martin Central and former Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Darryl Smith.

Allow me to explain why.

Photo: Then Sport Minister Darryl Smith prepares to return a service on the table tennis board.
He will not be returning as MP though.
(via MSYA)

In the aftermath of the aborted investigation into sexual harassment allegations levelled at Smith by a former MSYA employee, questions were raised as to why he was not dismissed outright.

It was pointed out then that, although Smith’s fledgling political career was dead in the water, should he remain adrift yet afloat (as a MP) until the next general election, he would secure a guaranteed future financial blessing.

According to clause five of the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Services) Act Chapter 2:03, once Smith—or any MP for that matter—serves an aggregate of five full years as a MP, he would be eligible to receive a ‘MP pension’ at age 55. And if he had medical issues that forced him to give up his MP duties outright, then the pension would kick in immediately.

The key thing here is the ‘aggregate of five years’. Long ago, it was generally thought that once you served a second term as a MP, it entitled you to a pension. While technically this was true, it was a bit inaccurate.

Given our five-year election cycles, serving a second term in ordinary circumstances would definitely satisfy the aggregate criteria. The first three months in that second term would carry any returning MP over the five-year threshold and into the pension nirvana.

Image: Clause five of the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Services) Act Chapter 2:03.

However, we have had two occasions in the past where the sitting government decided to call elections long before they were due, shortening the length of the 4th and 9th Republican Parliaments.

In both cases, the first-time MPs of those administrations who were not fortunate enough to be re-selected as candidates would have lost out on pension eligibility at that moment—like Jean Pierre.

So too would have been any of the first-timers who was re-selected and subsequently lost at the polls like Keith Sobion, although his tenure in the Senate prior to 1991 might have made him eligible otherwise. Such service must include a ministerial portfolio to count towards the ‘aggregate of five years’.

There is talk in some circles that this might have influenced the decision of then PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar in setting the election date during her term in office. By using all of the time constitutionally afforded her before calling the date, all first-time MPs in that 10th Republican Parliament (including those in the opposition) would have satisfied the eligibility requirement in that single term.

So even a former UNC darling who fell spectacularly out of favour like Stacy Roopnarine has a guaranteed MP pension to look forward to when she turns 55.

How does this affect Smith? Well, the upcoming election date is a full month shy of five years from the previous election. This means that there is no way for Smith to become eligible by his current tenure as MP.

Photo: Former Minister of Sport Darryl Smith and PM Dr Keith Rowley at Brian Lara Stadium opening in 2017.
(via trinidadexpress.com)

And, even more pointedly, he is such a huge political liability that it is unlikely that he will ever be seriously considered as a PNM candidate for a general election.

With that, Smith’s gambit of keeping a low profile and biding time to pension eligibility went kaput. At 47, Smith had just over seven and a half years to go before that money would have been his, regardless of any other earnings he would be making then. Cue the world’s smallest violin playing a sad song!

If it is any consolation, Smith is not the only current PNM MP on the ‘lost pension parade’. Other current first-timers whose return bids for candidacy were unsuccessful are: Randall Mitchell, Nicole Olivierre, Edmund Dillon, Lovell Francis and Anthony Garcia. Maxie Cuffie is in the same boat, although medical concerns was his stated reason for not seeking re-election.

Nevertheless, unless the PNM leadership has a dramatic change of heart over their candidacy and can convince an extremely wary electorate to support them, Smith et al have seen their MP pension hope bubbles burst like Mavis G-string!

Editor’s Note: Because the Retiring Allowances Act defines a legislator as a elected member (MP) or unelected legislative member (Senator), it is possible that an appointment as a Senator would improve the aggregate of anyone needing help to cross the five-year threshold. But ONLY if it comes with a ministerial portfolio.

D’Abadie/O’Meara MP Ancil Antoine joined Darryl Smith and company on the unflattering list on 5 July, after he was axed following ‘insensitive and objectionable statements’ aimed at United States during his campaign launch. Click HERE for full story.

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About Scotty Ranking

Damian R. Scott is an ICT professional and a lifelong student (and part-time teacher) of language and communication. As Scotty Ranking, he frequently comments on topical issues of the day, dispensing knowledge to all and sundry.

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  1. Maybe Mr Scott is merely giving voice to a few unvoiced thoughts…

    First, have a little chat with Carrie-Ann Moreau.

    And then, if you remain unconvinced, ask Wired868 to give you a few more names of people you can talk to who might somehow feel that DS has merely got his just deserts, call it karma, call it poetic justice, call it what you will.

  2. This journalist is out of touch with reality… No one cares about this issue…. If you didn’t realise, I, as a v tax payer, has paid Smith and many more under performing MPs for years to do a piss poor job. You are so disrespectful to come to the public with a sad story about an MP that embarrassed his constituency.. Smh.. Downright shameless disrespectful journalism
    Why should this be the publics concern???

  3. Folks,
    Does anyone recall enquiries and celabratory articles about Glenn Ramadharsingh by members of the UNC during the the last election cycle? No? That’s strange…i recall the detailed allegations against the then minister by multiple women, and they make the accusations against Darryll Smith seem boyscout-ish. And yet i do not remember a single member of Ramadharsingh’s political or ethnic community enquiring about and celebrating his potential loss of a pension.

  4. ???This is news???

  5. MP’s pension hope bubbles burst like Mavis G-string! … The phrase is echoing in my head.Your talent is special.

    • Is Scrunter who tell all ah we how Mavis cyah come, boy, she send tuh say dat she G-string buss …As she bent over to pick up her guitar! It’s a rich metaphor, ent?

      Thanks for the compliment. Greatly appreciated. Inspires me to write more and more often.

    • Mavis g-string??? What a sick demented comment…

  6. I can think of quite a few that made the 5 years, who should not be given the Pension. In fact, I believe that in addition to that qualifying period, the people in the constituency should be given the opportunity to say yes or no.

  7. Poetic justice at its finest!

    • Instant Karma’s gonna get you
      Gonna look you right in the face
      Better get yourself together darlin’
      Join the human race …

      • Scotty…To which theologic version of “Karma”are you referring?…The buddhist, or the Brahmin-ist (“Hindu”) ???
        You see scotty, Fun Fact:
        The concept of “Karma” in Brahmin-ism (“Hindu-ism) is inseparable from race, (skin colour & facial features)! According the Brahmin-ism (“Hindu-ism) YOU are inherently (Genetically), infected with “bad” (spiritual)”karma”, evidenced by your dark skin and facial features, which indicate bad deeds done in a past life. Also your bad karma is infectious and physical contact with you is perilous, therefore you are deemed Un-Touch-able! When martin luther king visited india, he went to speak at a school, where he was introduced by the host/teacher as “An untouchable from America”

        • The lyric is from an old Joh Lennon song. Implied in it is that what goes around comes around and can smack you hard. As has in a way done Darryl here. No deep theology required. What you’re on about is a whole other discussion that is unrelated to this.

          • Ok Scotty,
            Look up the song “Cognitive Dissonance”, from the band “Wretched Of The Earth”. In the mean time, i’ll go hold john lennon accountable for ignorantly promoting ideas that are ruinous to himself and his ethnic group.

            Beam me down now!

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