Once again Jamaicans must listen to regular bleating from MPs about their “low” salaries.
Robert “Chicken Feed” Pickersgill called it chicken feed. Yet so many politicians contest run-offs in order to claim the prize of being their party’s candidate for most constituencies. Why do they struggle so hard to win the right to earn “chicken feed”? Why do they stay in the job until they have to be wheeled out in chairs or pampers; or given golden ambassadorial handshakes as incentive to leave? Obviously, there are perks.
These perks include the ability to import duty-free high-end motor cars. MPs have been known to order new crissas the first day they enter Gordon House before voting on a single Bill. But the real reason persons strive to become MPs and earn “chicken feed” is because, in Jamaica’s “Westmonster” system of governance it’s the only way to become a Cabinet Minister (except for two lucky Senators). Now, as a cabinet minister, “perks” abound. Friends can be put in jobs for which they’re not qualified at mouth-watering salaries. Old school chums can form new companies and get all sorts of contracts to do variegated “works” now that schoolmate is “Minista”!
The putrid old excuse about MPs having to give away money to constituents; pay for funerals; drive from Kingston to faraway constituencies to attend functions and funerals (again); and address constituents’ welfare concerns has been trotted out ad nauseam.
It. Makes. Me. Sick!
Let’s begin at the beginning. MPs should reside in their constituencies. They should drive twice per week TO Kingston to attend Parliament as legislators ONLY. From their home base they should be regularly consulting with constituents so as to better represent their interests or concerns IN PARLIAMENT. The urge to be constituents’ Godfathers is a practice fuelled by tribal politics not by any obligation as MP nor even from necessity. Local development concerns are why we have local government.
But, despite this constitutional ideal, Parliament created an illegal (my opinion) resource for MPs called Constituency Development Fund whereby every MP gets millions of taxpayer dollars annually to tackle development and welfare concerns. Why’d they distribute personally funded handouts? Why are they asking for more taxpayer funds to be paid ostensibly to refund personal largesse?
One last time! MPs are legislators, nothing more. They’re constituents’ representatives in Parliament. But because we’ve so distorted the system of representational government imported from merrie olde England, Jamaican MPs represent their political party in Parliament NOT their constituents. Because every “government MP” lusts after a cabinet post MPs have become rubber stamps for government policy or Opposition politics NOT constituents’ representatives. For this repugnant disregard of their constitutional duties they want MORE PAY?
It. Makes. Me. Sick!
Then the odious non-sequitur comparison with private sector salaries is an abuse of logic, unworthy and disingenuous. I heard former banker turned Senator Aubyn Hill discussing NCB salaries on radio. Fer Crissake, NCB is spending NCB’s money for expertise to ensure NCB makes a profit for shareholders. It believes it’s getting value for money. NCB balance sheet/P&L accounts confirm this.
Parliamentarians who vote themselves increased salaries are spending OUR MONEY without our consent. They aren’t doing their job which is to produce laws for the peace and good government of Jamaica. The government they so gleefully rubber stamp weekly hasn’t produced a year of real economic growth since Whoppi kill Phillup! WHAT’S THE BASIS FOR INCREASES?
A recent poll found 80% of Jamaicans (equivalent, in the NCB analogy, to 80% of NCB shareholders) are opposed to parliamentary salary increases. How’d Senator Hill react to that? Recently, he told Dionne Jackson-Miller “80% of the population haven’t (sic) been educated.” Really? Seriously? That’s all you’ve got? That’s the contempt you have for Jamaicans? You’d spend their money against their will and call them ignorant? What about the majority (57% of intended voters; 30% of all responders) of that same population who told that same pollster they’d vote JLP?
HOW EDUCATED HAVE THEY BEEN?