Letter of the Day | Leaders should prioritise the people
THE EDITOR, Madam:
I am writing as a logical, critical, and well-thinking Jamaican to commend both Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding for their recent decisions regarding their salaries.
It is indeed commendable that Prime Minister Holness turned down the salary increase he was slated to receive, and it is equally praiseworthy that Opposition Leader Golding has pledged to give back 80 per cent of his substantial salary increase.
However, while these actions are laudable, it is important for all parliamentarians to demonstrate their awareness of the plight of Jamaican taxpayers and the hardships faced by the Jamaican people. As a concerned citizen, I feel compelled to address a few points regarding the recent dialogue on this issue.
First, it is not necessary to compare Jamaica’s salary rates to those of other countries, especially when those countries are performing better economically. Mentioning the higher salaries of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak or Barbados prime minister’s annual earnings is irrelevant. The economic disparities between Jamaica and these nations, including differences in GDP, population, and economic strength, render such comparisons baseless.
Furthermore, it is crucial to acknowledge that Jamaica faces significant financial obligations to international institutions such as the International Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and China. With such a heavy debt burden, it is simply not in Jamaica’s best interest to allocate exorbitant salaries to its leaders.
While I deeply respect Prime Minister Holness for his years of service and commend his accomplishments in navigating the challenges posed by COVID-19, true leaders must lead by example. It is essential for their salaries to reflect the hardships faced by the country. The average Jamaican is living pay cheque to pay cheque, and many are struggling to make ends meet.
Contrary to the assertions made by Timothy Carnegie in his recent letter to the editor dated Tuesday, May 23, 2023, the average Jamaican is not living comfortably or prosperously. The Jamaican economy is in shambles, and day-to-day living is a constant struggle for many citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic cannot serve as a valid justification for high salaries, as many other countries have also faced similar challenges and have not rewarded their leaders with excessive pay raises.
It is my sincere belief that Jamaican leaders should prioritise the needs of the people and demonstrate empathy for their struggles. Allocating a massive salary increase to the prime minister or any government minister at this time is both irrational and insensitive. Instead, our leaders should focus on implementing policies that promote economic growth, job creation, and improved living conditions for all Jamaicans.
Let us demand more from our leaders and hold them accountable to the true needs and aspirations of the Jamaican people. Only then can we truly build a stronger and more equitable nation.