Social commentator Dr Michael Abrahams has labelled as “unconscionable”, “arrogant” and “insensitive” the massive salary increases given to members of the political directorate as part of the Government’s compensation review for the public sector.
While noting that he believes legislators and other members of the political class deserved a raise in pay, Abrahams said he is offended by the exorbitant level of increases particularly against the background of contentious wage negotiations with public sector groups.
“All of them deserve a raise, I have no problem with that, but the amount by which their salaries were increased and the timing of it, coming after the teachers were literally begging for something that makes sense. It’s unconscionable, it’s arrogant and insensitive. We can’t accept that,” Abrahams told OBSERVER ONLINE, adding “I know too many nurses and teachers, and police struggling.”
He was among protesters demonstrating against the salary increases outside the Emancipation Park in New Kingston on Friday.
Abrahams also slammed members of the Opposition who, outside of leader Mark Golding, have not indicated whether they will be accepting the increases which they are to receive under the compensation review.
“This doesn’t mean the Opposition are our saviors because they are sitting down and taking it. I don’t hear the Opposition saying ‘no, we not going take all of that’. The system is just corrupt, we are in a bad way,” Abrahams said.
Golding has pledged to give back 80 per cent of the more than $17 million increase in his annual salary come April 1 next year.
Abrahams, meanwhile, also took aim at the salary for Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, who is set to receive $34 million a year after an almost 200 percent increase in salary.
“$34 million for what? To wear medal and go coronation and have ackee tree? Really? Seriously though,” Abrahams said.
How would Abrahams like the Government to respond to the backlash?
“For them to have the conscience to address us and say ‘you know what is true, that was a bit too much, we hear the cry of the people and we are going to take it down a bit,” he said.
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke earlier this week in Parliament announced the increases of more than 200 per cent in some cases, for parliamentarians and other members of the political directorate including mayors and councillors.
READ: Salaries soar
The adjustments will see the prime minister's salary move from the current $9.169 million as at 2021, to $22.332 million with effect April 1, 2022, then to $25.267 effective April 2023, and $28.6m as of April 1, 2024.