(HinterlandGazetteEditorial) — Jamaican Member of Parliament for West Portland Daryl Vaz has offered to take a five percent pay cut and is urging his colleagues, including Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, to follow suit. He is proposing what many politicians, including members of the U.S. Congress are unwilling to do in the face of a continuing economic crisis that has spread across the world. The only issue I have with this offer from Daryl Vaz is that while he was Information Minister he didn’t make a similar proposal, since Bruce Golding’s cabinet salary totals were very high.
MP Daryl Vaz said, “Some may view my call as optics/symbolism or perhaps both, but if we legislators are to be true to our calling as public servants, then we must ask ourselves to share in all of the sacrifices which are being asked of our fellow Jamaicans,” the Jamaica Gleaner reports. You see, the University of the West Indies (Mona) is having problems paying its bills because the government has cut its funding and students are late in paying their student loans. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed on the island, while members of parliament seem to be living the high life. I believe the PM’s salary is JA$7 million+, along with a ton of perks. In 2012, Jamaicans paid $111,349,381 to Portia Simpson Miller and her Cabinet, which numbered 20. That’s compared to $50,887,128 in 2006, when there were 14 cabinet members.
Daryl Vaz is right, his colleagues need to “demonstrate their understanding of the crisis facing the country and lead by example.” Jamaica is a beautiful island but it has been transformed into something most people don’t recognize. I have been very critical of former PM Bruce Golding and I have been equally critical of the current PM for not putting the country first. The size of the cabinet is bloated with too many unnecessary positions that could be eliminated and the money put to good use such as paying of its debts and helping improve the aging infrastructure. There are far too many “consultants and advisers” getting rich off the Jamaican people. I personally know of one consultant who doesn’t have a background in what she was hired to do, but yet is raking in millions. Would Norman Manley or Alexander Bustamante allow such waste under their watch? I think not.
Job creation and growth, along with reducing the high crime rate, should be the focal point of the Jamaican government. Investors should be flocking to the island but instead, that’s not the case. They are running away due to an impenetrable bureaucracy and ridiculous red tape impeding their attempts. I salute Daryl Vaz for publicly taking a stand and throwing down the gauntlet. I wish more politicians, like some in the U.S. Congress would step up to the plate and put the needs of the country ahead of partisan bullsh*t.
***CORRECTION: An earlier post erroneously stated Jamaican PM Portia Simpson Miller’s salary was more than President Obama’s. That has since deleted.***