Wasteful & Extravagant : Cabinet To Cost $100.000.000
“You would not have 18. I will not give the country a breakfront.” – Portia Simpson Miller (May 2011)
This was the response given by then Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller, when asked whether she would appoint 18 members to a Cabinet, should she form the next government. Only a few months later, the Prime Minister has named a 19 member Cabinet (20 including her) with an accompanying price tag of $111, 349, 381; that does not include the salary of the Attorney General. This is according to figures released by The Sunday Gleaner.
Of particular importance is the allegation that the new Prime Minister will take home $7, 271, 283 per annum, this is a $3,000,000 increase in the last reported salary package for the Office of Prime Minister. This is certainly excessive and extravagant; Jamaicans should demand an answer as to why taxpayers are being made to pay the Prime Minister so much. Mrs. Simpson Miller had blasted then Prime Minister Golding about the size and cost of his 18 member Cabinet, calling on him to do “the honourable thing” and cut the size of the executive. I’m curious to know what happened to that honour Mrs. Simpson Miller promoted; why does she have such a costly Cabinet? Why has she done the dishonourable thing she was so very much against in Opposition?
In my last post, I criticised the over all size and pointed out that many of the appointments seemed to be nothing more than rewards. For instance, a Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Sport? This amounts to having a full Minister of Sport, nothing else, just Sport. I can find no justification for that whatsoever. A colleague of mine reminded me that the Summer Olympics will be held this year and so perhaps we need a Minister to focus on that. He went on to cite the fact that former British PM Gordon Brown had a Minister for the Olympics. My answer to this was simple. 1. London is HOSTING the Olympics and 2. Britain can afford such an appointment, Jamaica can’t.
In a country where there is chronic unemployment and poverty, the Government should lead by example and move to tighten it’s fiscal space. Many Jamaicans are struggling to make ends meet, many of these people have to make tough sacrifices and they have a government taking home a cool 100 million. It is unacceptable, especially from a Prime Minister who allegedly loves the poor. In the same way Mrs. Simpson Miller demanded a smaller, more cost effective Cabinet from Golding, we must demand the same of her. Do “the honourable thing” Madam Prime Minister, cut the size of your breakfront; the very breakfront you promised not to give the country. I loathe hypocrisy among politicians and this carries a strong stench of hypocrisy. It offends the concept of “people power” and amounts to the Prime Minister directly lying to the Jamaican people. Mrs. Simpson Miller gave a commitment and she must respect it, even more so now that the Cabinet cost has been revealed. This is not the first time Mrs. Simpson Miller has made suspect moves as it relates to salaries. Former Prime Minister Golding had called for parliamentarians to take a salary cut in largely symbolic show of solidarity with the poor. Mrs. Simpson Miller vehemently rejected this. Lest we forget.
BreakDown of Salary Package :
Prime Minister : $7, 271, 283.
Finance Minister : $5, 891, 212.
Other Cabinet Ministers : $98, 186, 886.
Total : $111, 349, 381.
In light of this, I have two (2) questions :
1. Has the Governor General received a raise? If yes, how much?
2. Are Messrs Seaga and Patterson receiving $7,000,000 in pensions?
I ask the second question being mindful of the fact that Mr. Patterson had made the pension of former Prime Ministers equal to the salary of the sitting Prime Minister. Golding had reversed this for himself and all subsequent Prime Ministers.
“Don’t come to us and ask for cooperation, Mr. Prime Minister, when you retain your mega-size Cabinet. I’m calling on the Prime Minister to do the honourable thing, cut the size of your Cabinet now!” – Portia Simpson Miller (September 2009)
Do the honourable thing Madam Prime Minister, cut the size of your Cabinet. It is far too early for you to be flip flopping.
Is this people power?