LETTER OF THE DAY - Decrease constituencies to save money, PM Golding
The Editor, Sir:
The prime minister has stated categorically that the public sector has to be cut on account of the deepening economic crisis that Jamaica is now facing and one cannot help but agree with him in this regard. I am therefore asking him to look in on the following matter.
We have 13 mayors and more than 200 parish councillors, costing the country more than $200 million in remuneration plus other benefits per year. We also have 60 members of parliament, all being paid from the public purse, costing approximately $3 million each per annum - and this is just the basic salary. When perks and other benefits are added, the figure is much higher. Then there are the ministers whose salaries are much higher. In addition to that, we have permanent secretaries, state ministers and a few parliamentary secretaries.
Parliament, at the end of three and five years respectively, determines that we have a local government and/or general election or a combination of both as per the last set of elections we had. These two polls elect 267 parish councillors and members of Parliament and, since 2003, a mayor in Portmore.
When one closely examines the cost of paying these men and women, one concludes that the figures are staggering. Some of the roles of the parish councils include maintaining parochial roads, streetlights, markets, etc. Why can't these be absorbed into the respective ministries and cut the parish councils and save some money?
It is in this light that I am asking the prime minister to not adapt the recommendation to increase the number of constituencies, as we cannot afford it at this time, but instead, look to cut same. The fear of having a parliamentary tie, as was the case in Trinidad and Tobago, can be remedied with a simple act of parliament and, in our case, the unofficial garrisons make this seem more unlikely to happen. Better yet, if we are going to increase the number of constituencies, why can't it be by a single seat?
I am etc.,
Siloah, St Elizabeth