Morgan rejects calls to reverse salary increases for political directorate, cites cascading negative effects on other public sector employees
A rollback of the contentious wage hike for Cabinet ministers would have a “cascading negative effect” on the salaries of senior bureaucrats and other public sector workers, a senior government official has said. That assertion late yesterday by...
A rollback of the contentious wage hike for Cabinet ministers would have a “cascading negative effect” on the salaries of senior bureaucrats and other public sector workers, a senior government official has said.
That assertion late yesterday by Robert Morgan, minister with responsibility for information, followed a public demonstration and calls by the parliamentary Opposition and the Church for the Government to recast the more than 200 per cent wage hike announced for the political directorate.
Under a principle dating back over 30 years, Cabinet ministers in successive administrations have been paid $1 per week more than a permanent secretary at the highest point of the salary band for that category of public employees, Morgan noted during an interview with The Gleaner.
This is to ensure that a permanent secretary is not paid more than the “policy head” of a ministry, he explained.
Morgan said the same principle was applied in the latest wage increase for the political executive.
“The reason why the ministry [of finance] would put ministers at a particular point is the recognition that you are giving space so that at no point in the next couple years a permanent secretary, based on promotion and all of that, moves above a minister,” he explained.
The information minister noted that citizens have a right to protest, but insisted that the reclassification of salaries for public sector workers was based on strong principles of fairness and transparency.
“We have not hidden anything.”
The massive salary increases were first announced in Parliament by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke on Tuesday.
Following the announcement, Opposition Spokesman on Finance Julian Robinson said members on his side had “no issue with what the minister has announced”.
Robinson has since indicated that the Opposition was “surprised” by the level of increases and explained that his statement in Parliament was based on a “consensus view” within its parliamentary group not to reject the pay rise.
But during a press conference yesterday, he appeared to take issue with the move by the Government to peg the salaries of Cabinet ministers to the highest point of the permanent secretary’s band.
“We are saying that alignment should more be in the middle of the band … somewhere in the range of 19 to 20 [million dollars yearly],” Robinson suggested during the press conference at the People’s National Party’s (PNP) St Andrew headquarters.
The Jamaica Council of Churches made a similar call in a statement on Thursday.
However, Morgan suggested such a move would have a domino effect on other senior managers in the public sector.
“If it is that we were supposed to roll back the salaries, how do we then deal with the cascading negative effect it will have on permanent secretaries, chief technical directors and directors?” he questioned.
Charging that many public sector workers were left “out in the cold”, Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding said the massive increases awarded to the political class offend the principle of equity.
Golding noted, too, that the new salaries for Jamaican elected officials are “way higher” than their counterparts in the Caribbean.
“That is a situation that is difficult to justify given that we have one of the lowest rates of GDP [gross domestic product] per capita among our regional peers and Jamaica has not managed to rise out of this chronic low economic growth pattern,” Golding said during the PNP press conference, during which he indicated he would keep 20 per cent of the over 200 per cent increase in his salary and distribute the remainder to “persons in need and other worthy causes.”