By George Davis
Dr Omar Davies served as finance minister for 13 years and eight months, the longest stint of the 10 men who've led arguably the country's most crucial ministry between 1959 and 2012.
Used as he is to dealing with big budgets involving massive amounts of spending, one can perhaps understand his insensitivity to calls for a cut in the size of the Cabinet, which may only lead to, say, $20 million, in annual savings for the Government over the four years of the IMF agreement, set to be signed by the end of the month.
Given he's a man used to thinking in billions of dollars, perhaps the demotion of a couple ministers or ministers without portfolio to plain old MP status, alongside a reduction in the size of the army of consultants and paid advisers, doesn't impress Dr Davies.
Perhaps Dr Davies, used as he is to looking at the big picture, cannot anymore see the symbolic importance of even a salary cut for the 42 members of the current administration. Perhaps the gentleman doesn't believe in the kind of gesture politics in which the Government is being asked to engage.
Indeed, perhaps it's that Dr Davies, a man who has served the St Andrew South constituency with distinction for the past 19 years, is losing his ability to see how empathy from a government can improve the spirit of its people, battling their way through dire straits.
Perhaps Dr Davies is simply an arrogant politician, fully subscribed to the do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do style of politics. Perhaps Dr Davies is too old to be arrogant and is simply telling the Jamaican people that his $5-million annual salary, less benefits and allowances, is too thin to be cut, especially given his expenses and the toughness of the times.
Dr Davies told Parliament last Tuesday that those calling for a cut in the Cabinet were being frivolous. He asserted that such a cut would be good only for optics and an editorial or letter to the editor.
Perhaps Dr Davies, platinum-haired but far from feeble, forgot that the Government, of which he's a senior member, has been on a charm offensive since taking office last year, asking the Jamaican people to sacrifice more on the mission to rebuild the economy.
Perhaps he's unaware that Premier Craig Cannonier and his colleagues in Bermuda's 12-member Cabinet have taken a 10 per cent pay cut as their part of the sacrifice in light of tough economic and fiscal circumstances. Perhaps Dr Davies is also unaware of the statement from Premier Cannonier, that the pay cut, while more symbolic than substantive, is intended to show the Bermudan people that while they tighten their belts, their government will do the same.
Perhaps Dr Davies will see the Bermudan government's decision as fiddling, foolish, unimportant, negligible, or any of the myriad other words which can be substituted for frivolous. Perhaps in the moment he addressed the issue of a Cabinet cut in the House last week, Dr Davies was simply throwing words at some private-sector group and not responding consciously to a sensible call being made in almost every quarter in this country.
Perhaps, too, in the moment he used that unfortunate descriptor, 'frivolous', Dr Davies was living up to the image of politicians as out of touch, uncaring creatures made emotionally frigid by years of continuous exposure to the air conditioning paid for by the ever-suffering taxpayers of this country.
Perhaps Dr Davies' disdainful reaction to such a call wasn't meant as the insult it turned out to be. Perhaps Omar Davies, bold in his speech to fellow parliamentarians, may have felt embarrassed were he to say those words to the faces of his constituents living in Arnett Gardens, Trench Town or Jones Town.
Perhaps Dr Davies is a tired minister, drained of the display window starch he had up to five years ago. And perhaps because of his feelings of lassitude, Dr Davies is not the best placed to give any definite statement on whether a pay cut or reduction in the size of the Cabinet will occur in the name of shared sacrifice.
Perhaps we'll hear the settlement of this issue from our beloved prime minister.
George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.