Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Holness clarifies salary position

PM will only collect $9m as head of government

Published:Thursday | May 25, 2023 | 1:45 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

PRIME MINISTER Andrew Holness has clarified that he is only collecting one salary of $9 million annually, which is his role as head of government, despite his several other government positions.

He has also indicated that his decline of the 214-per-cent increase will continue for the duration of his tenure.

“A prime minister with a new mandate could always review the position,” noted a statement from his office yesterday. He said his decision has “broader implications for not only the current holder of the Office of Prime Minister (OPM), but previous holders of the office, and possible future holders”.

Earlier yesterday, Information Minister Robert Morgan said Holness’ move to decline the increase from $9.1 million in 2021 to $25.6 million this April and to $28.6 million on April 1, 2024, was binding on all past and future heads of government.

“It’s not the Andrew Holness salary that has been reduced, it’s that of the prime minister so logically I think it would be binding,” Morgan said.

He added: “I believe that it is binding, both past and present, because pensions are also connected to the salary so past and present and future would be tied to it.”

The pension of former prime ministers is tied to the salary of the current officeholder. There are three living former prime ministers, P.J. Patterson, Portia Simpson Miller, and Bruce Golding.

The OPM said: “The prime minister’s compensation will therefore remain at its previous level, no new or special allowance will apply, and no retroactive payments will apply to the prime minister’s compensation.”

Meanwhile, Holness has also made clear that he is only collecting a prime minister’s salary despite his other government positions including being minister responsible for the OPM, Minister of Economic Growth and Job Creation and Member of Parliament for St Andrew West Central.

“For an abundance of clarity, the Prime Minister of Jamaica does not receive separate compensation as a member of parliament or as a cabinet minister,” OPM said.

“This is in keeping with the long-established principle of the Government of Jamaica, that persons paid from the Consolidated Fund (main government account) shall only receive one salary, regardless of the number of discrete jobs or functions they perform. In cases where persons hold multiple jobs or have discrete functions, the office holder would be compensated at the highest salary of the jobs or functions they hold.”

On Monday, Holness indicated that he had declined the salary increase to show “symbolically and truthfully” that he understands public backlash over the levels and timing of the increases for members of the political directorate.

Increases for other members of the cabinet, members of parliament, and councillors will be implemented as proposed.

Several sector groups, including the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, the Jamaica Council of Churches, the National Integrity Action, the Advocates Network, and the Jamaica Civil Service Association, have expressed concerns about the increases, many of which exceed 200 per cent.