I watched Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke struggle with Dionne Jackson Miller on the All Angles Live television programme when asked about the massive salary increases for Jamaican politicians relative to others in the Caribbean.
Dr Clarke tried to justify the increases, boasting that Jamaica was the only country in the region to complete a comprehensive public service salary review and, unlike the others, was resilient and bounced back economically from COVID-19, which enabled it to afford the increases.
This made no sense, considering that Jamaica has one of the lowest gross domestic products per capita in the region pre and post COVID-19. How could anyone in Government think that these levels of increases were okay?
They are justified in getting an increase, but 100 to 200 per cent plus is absurd. It also does not make any sense now that the Prime Minister Andrew Holness has decided to waive his increase. How can the Members of Parliament and ministers earn more than the prime minister? And does it really matter if the Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding takes 20 per cent of his increase and donates the 80 per cent balance? As for the governor general being paid $34 million per annum, this is absolutely ridiculous.
What we are seeing is a Government leading from behind; it doesn't know what it is doing. The members of the Executive don't seem to think things through strategically and logically. Remember when they rushed the National Identification System (NIDS) legislation and had to abort that version of NIDS after it was ruled unconstitutional by the court? The reformed NIDS is still being rushed, whereby biometric data and facial imagery will be captured under the disguise of digitisation. Similarly, legislation was announced to mandate child car seat restraint on public vehicles and they also tried to block access to Cabinet documents for up to 70 years. Government had to backtrack these legislations following public outrage.
They also announced plans to spend $422 million on a marketing campaign to boost COVID-19 vaccination, which they had to abort due to the backlash. People have not forgotten about Senator Kamina Johnson Smith's failed bid to oust Baroness Patricia Scotland for the position of Commonwealth Secretary, which also came at a cost to the country. The amount of money wasted frivolously over the years could've been much better spent in other areas to benefit Jamaicans.
If the Government leads from the front, they will learn to make better decisions, find solutions based on critical thinking and analysis, and ultimately lead by example. They must realise by now that people are not stupid.
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