THE EDITOR, Sir:
Recently, there have been calls to place the various ministries into competent hands and to have our parliamentarians return to legislative focus. I could not agree more.
The House has significantly underperformed in the drafting, debating and passing of bills when compared to the developed world's legislatures. Yet, it would appear that we have more to do.
For the current sitting of Parliament, very few bills have been passed. The House has become a place to discuss business matters that can be best discussed outside the House.
To demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Cabinet ministers, let us look at the recent pronouncement by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites that our school system was an apartheid system. These words were powerful, and I commend him for facing the reality.
However, these utterances should only have been made with a policy initiative or legislation to end the apartheid system. Obviously, Thwaites has accepted the apartheid system and has no solutions to end it. Let us put the education ministry in competent hands.
The same can be said about most ministries, except for the justice minister. He is methodically addressing systemic problems on the issue of justice through policy and legislation. He is a senatorial appointment and appears to have a high level of competency when compared to Cabinet ministers who are MPs.
SET A SERIOUS AGENDA
The House needs to have a legislative agenda. Parliamentarians have significantly fewer constituents per capita than the US and only meet once per week (members have subcommittee meetings, but these are not very time-consuming). They are frequently absent and engage in misbehaviour while in the House.
When compared to members of Congress in the US on a per-capita basis, their salaries are unjustified. When calculated based on the time spent in the House on legislation, salaries are unjustified. When calculated on the basis of bills passed in the House, salaries are unjustified. We should open a discussion on the appropriate rate of pay for part-time work, since most MPs have a second job.
Last, we need full disclosure on the other governmental salaries of MPs. Let us hold the House to the same standards as the rest of us working stiffs. Where is the media?
Montego Bay, St James