Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Chatting away the country's money

Published:Thursday | October 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: It is bad enough that in the midst of a debt crisis when the Government has insisted that it has no money to help the poor and dispossessed to survive, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller stubbornly maintains a Cabinet of more than 20 ministers to administer the affairs of a mere 2.7 million people.

When the economic crisis first threatened to totally devastate the nation, concerned people called on the Government to take a symbolic pay decrease to demonstrate to the hurting nation that its members, too, were prepared to make sacrifices. But even this symbolism was resisted by the prime minister.

And despite the cutbacks in education, health, security and other areas critical to the welfare of the nation, the Government has done nothing to curb the voracious appetite of the petty politicians who deem themselves the gods of our universe, as they move around in high-end vehicles supplied by taxpayers and flaunt all the expensive perks of power.

We should, therefore, not be overly surprised that members of a government like this have also been abusing the public purse in how they use the taxpayer-provided cell phones.

So here we have Arnaldo Brown, a junior minister to boot, racking up a cell phone bill of $1.09 million for one year, according to the excellent investigative reporting done by RJR.

And his is just the most obscene of the revelations so far, as only half of the Cabinet has supplied the information requested by RJR, and that half alone has racked up total bill in excess of $5 million for chatting for one year.

What is enlightening, too, is the appearance that those who have been the most expensive in this exercise have been the least productive. For what has Arnaldo Brown been doing that is a real asset to the country? On the other hand, we see where Justice Minister Golding, who has been doing a reasonable job, has not cost the taxpayer one red cent for unnecessary chatting. That tells quite a story, doesn't it?

Of course, my advice to all who are expecting the prime minister to do anything about this latest national disgrace is: do not hold your breath.

JOAN WILLIAMS

gratestj@gmail.com