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Govt revises bill to increase remuneration for judges

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By Tabora Bojang

Following the dismissal of the Judicial Officers Remuneration Bill by the National Assembly last September, the government has introduced another bill entitled “Judicial Officers Remuneration and Other Entitlements Bill, 2024” which aims to increase the remuneration of judicial officers in The Gambia.

The bill will be tabled before the National Assembly today to be read for the first time.

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It is seeking to make provisions for enhancement of salaries, allowances, pensions and other entitlements of judicial officers.

The bill empowers the Judicial Service Commission to carry out an inquiry into the adequacy of the emoluments payable to judicial officers whenever government conducts public service pay review and submit its report to the president for approval within three months.

In conducting the inquiry, the commission shall consider the economic conditions including the cost of living, the role of judicial officers in promoting rule of law, the level of emoluments paid to non-judicial offices in the public service and the need to attract outstanding candidates.

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Allowances

The bill seeks to empower the commission to make regulations to establish the allowances and other entitlements of judicial officers including incidental expenses. Such regulations will define and categorise the allowances and benefits, their levels and thresholds, policies governing them and accounting and tax procedures.

Accommodation

According to the bill, the Chief Justice and other judges while in office shall be provided with a fully furnished accommodation, including utilities without charge. They shall also be paid sums in respect of incidental expenses including telephone and robbing allowance.

It also has provisions for a special allowance to be paid to judicial officers posted outside Banjul and the Kombos.

Travel allowance 

A judicial officer who while performing his or her functions attends at any place other than Banjul, KM or WCR shall be paid an allowance in respect of such travel expenses. According to the bill, a judicial officer shall be paid a moving allowance when he or she relocates for a new job posting and his or her existing office is transferred to another location requiring him or her to change residence.

Per diem for overseas meetings

A judicial officer who attends a meeting, conference or seminar abroad relating to administration of justice shall be paid per diem allowance. In the case of the Chief Justice, he or she will be paid equivalent to what is prescribed for the Vice President and in the case of a judge of the Superior Court at the rate and benefit of what is prescribed for a minister.

Health insurance, security and vehicle

According to the bill, a judicial officer shall be entitled to an official vehicle,  an insurance cover in line with the national health insurance scheme for medical treatment for him or her only and be accorded specialist treatment where needed.

A judge shall be provided security for the protection of his or her person and residence and a judge who retires between the ages of 65 to 75 shall be provided security for life.

Gratuity and pension

A judge who retires at the age of 65 after having served 5 years in aggregate in a judicial office shall be paid a non-taxable lump sum gratuity equal to 6 months of his or her basic salary last received in office. A judge of a superior court who retires at the age of 65 shall be entitled to pension of 50 percent of total emoluments after serving 10 years. While a judge who retires at the age of 70 shall be entitled to 75 percent and a judge who retires at 75 years shall be entitled to 100 percent emoluments.

However, a judge who retired before 65 years on medical grounds shall be entitled to such emoluments.

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