Members of Parliament (MP) made impassioned pleas in the House of Parliament on Tuesday for better salaries for their work.
In a question-and-answer session in the House of Representatives that involved Minister of Finance and Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke and Opposition MP Reverend Ronald Thwaites, the MPs also called for better pension and constituency funding.
“It is unjust for the public to expect that the persons who serve here at great sacrifice should be made paupers.”— Thwaites
Member of Parliament for North West St Catherine, Robert (Bobby) Pickersgill, who will be stepping down when the next election is called, led the protest.
Pickersgill said: “When I came here (Parliament) and heard the figure, I nearly died. The time has come, in my opinion, Mr Speaker, for us to, as I said, take the bull by the horn and settle these long outstanding issues regarding emoluments, pension and health benefits for parliamentarians.”
Counterparts in Barbados
Pickersgill said that the basic pay for the average Cabinet Minister is $5.6m per year. He said this is 40 per cent less than their counterparts in Barbados, while the Prime Minister there earns twice as much as Jamaica’s Prime Minister.
Central Kingston MP, Thwaites, joined Pickersgill. Thwaites said: “We, as parliamentarians, on both sides, have become hostages to our own self-contempt. It is time to stop that. No other public servant takes a loss as a result of his or her public service.”
“It is unjust for us to treat ourselves this way, and it is unjust for the public to expect that the persons who serve here at great sacrifice should be made paupers,” added Thwaites, who will also demit office at the next general election.
Meanwhile, Pickersgill argued that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) should be increased to $40 million per annum, which will allow MPs to be better able to serve their constituencies.