House committee to examine MPs compensation

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 15, 2018

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The Human Resource and Social Development Committee of the House of Representatives said it will take up the issue of the salaries and benefits paid to parliamentarians and other public servants.

Chairman of the committee, Ronald Thwaites, made the announcement at the end of yesterday's meeting, at which several members agreed that it was time that the issue be raised in the Parliament.

“I am going to be guided by the sentiments that have been expressed, and we can place a motion in Parliament which would raise the discourse and let it flow from there,” Thwaites said.

This followed arguments led by Opposition MP Dr Fenton Ferguson, who urged the members of the committee not be afraid to speak on the issue in the House.

“As Parliamentarians we have always been afraid to speak to salaries related to parliamentarians, and this is why many persons who would have served this Parliament (have not),” Dr Ferguson suggested.

He said for the discussions to succeed they would require bipartisan support, and the issue must be dealt with in a principled way.

“If it is not our remit, then I don't know whose remit it is,” said Opposition MP Angela Brown Burke, who insisted that the issue should not be used as a political football.

First-time Opposition MP Michael Stewart said that it was time to take a critical look at the whole matter of the compensation for public servants.

“And we have to support it, because we have seen where many of our public servants who have served this nation have ended up on the 'begging bench',” Stewart said.

Government MP Juliet Cuthbert Flynn said that she was in agreement with the arguments, as she had found that constituents had a different perception of their MPs from what is the reality.

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