To some people, there is only one word that can appropriately describe the recent salary increases to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his fellow politicians, and that is “craven.” For it’s as if they all won the lottery without buying a ticket.
Most people, including myself, do not think the vulgar level of increases, ranging from 100% to 300 %, is, by any means, justifiable. For when you look at the top performers around the world and the compensation their leaders earn in comparison to ours, there is simply no justification for the proposed level of increases.
For example, Britain has the 6th largest economy in the world, yet the recent increase would bring our PM’s compensation to only $150,000 less than that paid to the British Prime Minister, when our economic performance is way down at #130!
In view of the hostile reaction to the disgraceful increases in politicians’ salaries, the prime minister, fast on the heels of a pronouncement from the leader of the opposition, is saying he won’t grab the increase but everyone else will. The leader of the opposition said he will only take 20% of his increase and give the rest to charity.
Give me a break.
Another slap for the taxpayers is the fact that former prime ministers who are still living will also get the whopping increase.
Those living are P.J. Patterson, Bruce Golding and Portia Simpson Miller.
In my book however, the only former prime minister who deserves any raise is Portia.
For wasn’t it under P.J. that Jamaica’s economy hit rock bottom with the financial sector collapse which destroyed some 40,000 businesses and put the country into recession for years?
And why would Bruce Golding be deserving of a whopping increase when he only served as prime minister for 4 years before having to resign in disgrace after being accused of putting the interests of a notorious criminal above that of the country?
Portia is most deserving, as she returned Jamaica’s reputation to respectability and it was under her leadership that Dr. Peter Phillips restored Jamaica’s economy to viability, so we can now have money to spend on development rather than on debt servicing.
Another aspect of the inequitable handout being given to politicians without ‘accountability’ is the fact that parish councillors have also been awarded much more than they deserve.
Their pay has been increased by more than 300%, moving their renumeration from $1.6 million per year to $5 million.
How many councillors are performers? In my book, probably no more than 10%.
During the many years I spent on radio, no topic was more pervasive than that of the non-performance of the councillors.
For decades it has been recognized that taxpayers do not get value for the money spent on the parish council system, as in the main, their functions often overlap with those of the constituency representative, MP.
That is why some 40 years ago a study was done and it was proposed that parish councils be replaced with County Councils.
In other words, instead of having 13 parish mini-governments we would have three County Councils, representing Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey.
I liked the suggestion then and I still like it. For in my view, we have just too many politicians tripping all over each other with taxpayers getting short-changed every inch of the way.
Delivering good, cost-effective representation was not the objective of politicians 40 years ago, so the recommendation was shelved.
And value for money is not the objective today either.
Therefore, this latest act of exploitation will most likely be just another 9-day talk as politicians continue to enjoy the fruits of our labour without any accountability.