Some MPs at mercy of ministers, says Mikael Phillips
PHILLIPS... this process  does not move the dial in any way, shape, or

MEMBER of Parliament (MP) for Manchester Northwestern Mikael Phillips has decried the system of governance that is now in place for constituency development, which he says leaves some MPs at the mercy of ministers of Government.

In his 2022 constituency debate speech, themed Time Come, Phillips said an equitable, effective system is needed that works for all. He told the House of Representatives Tuesday that if the process was better financed and constructed for routine maintenance of infrastructure and other works, with consistent checks on quality, constituents would be better off.The MP pointed out that the only opportunity for backbenchers and other members to effect change within the next budget cycle is to participate in the constituency debates, hoping that ministers will move to effect change.

"...This process does not move the dial in any way, shape, or form; it does not put anyone of us in any better position to represent our people. Our people expect much more from us," he expressed. Phillips argued that the current system is one in which, "some of us are at the mercy of Government ministers, and if that minister does not find favour in you, dawg nyam you supper" he said, stressing, "I'm not pointing on any particular minister, because it happens even when we are on that side." He said equity is needed where State agencies execute programmes that foster sustainable development. "It will remove the idea of a culture that constituents now have of a Member of Parliament who is now seen as a welfare officer, doctor, undertaker, NWA officer, miracle worker — and the list goes on. We have a system that is broken and not working for the masses," he lamented.The MP pointed to the exponential increase in the needs of constituents over the past decade, while the constituency development fund remains at $20 million. "The needs have increased; the wants have swelled. In these 10 years inflation has increased by approximately 30-40 per cent. In 2012 a tonne of steel was under $60,000; it's over $120,000 now. The only tool we have to respond to the plight of our constituents have not changed in the last 10 years," he bemoaned, describing the situation as a travesty.Phillips argued that rural communities cannot be treated in the same way as urban ones, given that rural communities are often multiple times the size of urban constituencies, notwithstanding the greater population density in urban areas. "The needs are different… East Central St Andrew cannot be compared to North-West Manchester. It should be based on the size of the constituency and the amount of work to be done," he said.He argued that whether urban of rural, constituencies receive a similar maximum expenditure for works such as drain cleaning, debushing, and road maintenance. "This is expected to do significant work. It may be significant in urban constituencies, but certainly cannot even scratch the surface in a rural constituency," he remarked.

The MP also renewed his plea to the Government to fix the Troy bridge on the border of his constituency and southern Trelawny."Time come. Something has to be done for that bridge. It is affecting tourism, it's affecting commerce, [and] if somebody regrettably loses life... time wudda come for us because I'm sure that they would usher us out," he said, directing the remarks to MP for Trelawny Southern and House Speaker, Marisa Dalrymple Philibert."Before school went on holiday a young man fell into the river. His father had to jump in after him, nearly drowned. We don't want it to ever happen. We need some response to that bridge," he insisted.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

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