Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Letter of the Day | Pay our MPs well

Published:Monday | October 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM


It is commendable that Prime Minister Andrew Holness has recognised the importance of building a new Parliament building for Jamaica that will better accommodate our lawmakers and staff.

A new Parliament building is certainly long overdue and it is fundamentally imperative that a well-equipped and state-of-the-art edifice is constructed. There is need for facilities for research assistants, a well-equipped library, spacious offices for the Speaker of the House, the president of the Senate, the prime minister, leader of the Opposition, leaders of government and opposition business in the Lower House, as well as in the Senate, gallery for visitors and the media, and a police post.

The newly constructed Parliament building should be at least three times the size of the current structure on Duke Street. Might I add that the new building should be fully wired and powered by solar energy.

In recent times, some commentators, such as columnist Gordon Robinson, have been advocating that Cabinet ministers not be appointed from the complement of members of parliament or senators. They say that Cabinet ministers should be chosen from non-elected persons and professionals from within the Jamaican society, similar to what exists in the United States.

But it is my fervent and considered view that the current model of government has worked well and there is absolutely no need to change the Constitution. What is needed is for the Jamaican people to fearlessly and consistently hold our elected MPs and Cabinet and state ministers accountable and ensure that they operate transparently.

Why should the Constitution be altered to allow for Cabinet ministers to be named and appointed from the Jamaican society, or from any professional grouping, when they were not elected and voted into office by the electorate? I do not think that the Jamaican people would want such a change at all.

A much more intelligent proposal would be to increase the salaries of the prime minister, leader of the Opposition, Cabinet and state ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and that of members of parliament. The PM should be paid no less that $25 million per year; the leader of the Opposition, $18 million per year; Cabinet ministers, $15 million per year; state ministers, $10 million; parliamentary secretaries, $9 million; and members of parliament, $8 million per year.

Senators should be paid a salary of $5 million annually; and the president of the Senate, as well as the Speaker of the House, $10 million per year.

If we wish to have high-level performance and service from our Parliament and executive, we, as a country, must be prepared to pay them well.



Reading PO, St James