The young professional affiliate of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Generation 2000 (G2K), welcomes the landmark public sector compensation restructuring initiative which has resulted in significant increases in direct remuneration allocated to various groups, including nurses, doctors, teachers, the police, the leadership of the civil service, administrative and legal personnel, members of the judiciary, and political representatives.
G2K notes that the exercise and consequent salary scale adjustments have resulted in remuneration levels for some doctors, nurses, police personnel, senior educators, and the leadership of the civil service being approximately doubled and/or increased by over 100 and 200 per cent. In some instances, the salary of various cohorts among the referenced groupings has almost tripled effective April 2023.
Concerning the also-significant increase in salaries for political representatives, G2K notes that the increases, percentage-wise, are not inconsistent with the bolstering in remuneration given to several other groups, and the adjustment in the salary scale is consistent with the Fletcher Committee of 1989, which was commissioned by former Prime Minister Michael Manley, that recommended a formula, whereby increases granted to Cabinet ministers should be relative to that given to the leadership of the civil service.
Consequent upon the Fletcher report and the report of the Percival Patterson-commissioned Sasso Committee, the principle of benchmarking the salary of the Cabinet minister to that of the permanent secretary has existed for almost five decades. The current increases do not depart from this application and are further to the over 200 per cent increase in direct remuneration given to the leadership of the civil service, including permanent secretaries, under the public sector compensation initiative.
Further to the above-mentioned, G2K rejects a statement from the People's National Party (PNP) which suggests that the increases given to political representatives are inconsistent with the percentage-wise increases afforded to several groups across the public sector. The fact is cohorts among a host of public sector groups, including some doctors, nurses, principals and police personnel, have seen their salaries increase by over 200 per cent under the current public sector compensation restructuring initiative.
The organisation also notes that the statement of the PNP criticising the increases given to political representatives is inconsistent with utterances made by Opposition spokesman on finance Julian Robinson, who twice in the House of Representatives stated that the Opposition does not object to the increase.
Feedback from senior PNP representatives who were consulted prior to announcement of the increases also indicated support for the initiative, which they had suggested was long overdue, given major challenges facing Members of Parliament and councillors, whose salaries have not been increased for many years.
G2K also notes that the increases announced by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke apply to all elected political representatives, including Members of Parliament and councillors from the Opposition PNP. It's noteworthy that when political representatives in the then JLP Administration of 2007 acted in solidarity with the people by taking between a 10 and 15 per cent salary cut, PNP representatives elected not to do so.
G2K commends the current JLP Administration of Prime Minister Andrew Holness for the shrewd policies which have resulted in major gains in the economy, thereby placing the country in a position to restructure the public sector compensation mechanism and grant record increases to a raft of public sector workers, including police, doctors, teachers, nurses, and other key stakeholders in the sector.
In lieu of the various salary increases, G2K expects that there will be increased accountability from political representatives on both sides of the aisle.
G2K calls for robust public education as the ensuing reaction is due mainly to the lack of timely information on the related factors. This will also prevent those desperately seeking political relevance from capitalising on the lack of such information.
Shayne G Kerr
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