Mon | Oct 2, 2023

Letter of the Day | PM Holness’ salary increase is appropriate

Published:Tuesday | May 23, 2023 | 12:08 AM


I am an economist and a member of the Jamaican diaspora in the United Kingdom. Quite frankly, I am somewhat taken aback by the nature of the dialogue concerning a raise of pay for the prime minister and other government ministers.

The truth of the matter is the $9-million salary which was being paid to Prime Minister Andrew Holness is a disgrace. That’s the Jamaican equivalent of about £50,000.

According to the BBC, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is entitled to an annual salary of £164,951. That’s more than three times the former salary of Jamaica’s prime minister. The proposed $28-million per annum salary payable to Jamaica’s prime minister still falls shy of the UK prime minister’s annual salary. If we should take for example another island, Barbados prime minister is paid BDS$214,000 annually, or the equivalent of J$16 million, way more than the salary which was being paid to Jamaica’s prime minister.

I am aware that the three above-mentioned countries vary in terms of GDP, geographical size, population and economic muscle. However, Jamaicans should get real and understand that the so-called outrage at the salary increase for Prime Minister Holness is misplaced. If quality output is requested or demanded of a public office holder, the least that can be done is to compensate that individual properly.

The pertinent question to my mind is, is Prime Minister Holness delivering? The fact is that under Holness’ tutelage, Jamaica has been able to best navigate COVID-19 when compared to many regional countries and has emerged with substantial quarterly economic growth.

In my view, this is due in large part to Prime Minister Holness’ visionary leadership, where he established and took on leadership of the economic growth and job creation ministry almost eight years ago.

The end result is record consecutive quarters of economic growth and record unemployment numbers. Here is a man who entered public service at 25 years old, became the second-youngest member of parliament in Jamaica’s history, and has served his country for the vast majority of his adult life. Holness clearly has an insatiable appetite for results-oriented work and is the leader of likely the largest ministry in the history of Jamaica, the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

Jamaicans should give him his due and not major in the minor, especially in the context where the facts strongly support the notion that Prime Minister Holness, who has leadership of two ministries, which comprise at least 40 agencies, is delivering in key areas.