Minister disagrees that constituency allowance system is not transparent

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A government minister said that he does not support the notion that the system for the monthly constituency allowance for MPs is not transparent.
Earlier this week, Chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda True Labour Party Vere Bird III said that there was no accountability or transparency for the current constituency allowances of $2,000 each month that are paid to parliamentarians.
Bird suggested that for increased transparency, constituency branches should be legally registered so that the money could be better accounted for.
However, the Minister of Information Melford Nicholas said he was not in agreement with the sentiments echoed by Bird III.
“I can understand the curiosity of Bird, but what he doesn’t know is that it’s a small subsidy in terms of the cost that any particular parliamentary representative would have to carry,” he said.
Nicholas said that the monies are necessary because MPs, like everyone else, have to meet certain commitments in their constituency offices.
“There are utilities which must be paid by his constituency office both in terms of telecommunications, water and electricity and the upkeep of the office, and I can assure you that every month it falls way outside the cost of the $2,000,” he added.
Nicholas is also suggesting that the monthly allowance should be increased.
“If you would ask me or any member or parliament in or out of government whether or not an increase in the constituency allowance would be required, I think you will get a vehement ‘yes’,” he said.
The $2,000 per month which MPs receive for their constituencies has not been reviewed over the past 20 years.

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