By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis refused to tell The Tribune yesterday if his party’s MPs will give up their salaries as part of rejecting the government’s budget.
Citing as precedent a 1992 decision by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, Fort Charlotte MP Andre Rollins suggested on Tuesday evening that it would be an act of hypocritical “political grandstanding” for the FNM to make its historic decision to reject the budget and still go on to collect salaries administered under it.
He called on the media and public to hold the Opposition accountable over the implications of its stance.
“I ain’ discussing nothing until we finish. When we finish I’ll talk about the budget,” Dr Minnis said yesterday when confronted on the issue. Pointing to the House of Assembly while walking away, he said: “I’m going in there now to prepare my head to head.”
FNM Deputy Leader Lorreta Butler-Turner said: “I think that the leader has certainly indicated our position. I don’t think we’ve discussed anything outside of that but just because Mr Rollins had something to say doesn’t mean that in my opinion that dictates what the Free National Movement is going to do. Mr Rollins needs to be more concerned with what his government side is doing as opposed to what the FNM is going to do.”
Asked if she saw merits in Dr Rollins’ argument, she said: “I don’t want to be so dismissive but, essentially, I find very little to put merit in what Mr Rollins ever has to say.”
When St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman was asked about the issue, he declined to comment, directing The Tribune to question Dr Minnis.
Reiterating his stance yesterday, Dr Rollins said: “By voting no to the budget, the Opposition is voting against the government being able to pay its bills and debts – a very reckless position to take that is the height of fiscal irresponsibility. However, what makes their position even more absurd, is that while they intend to vote ‘no’ to the government paying the nation’s bills, they are not prepared to have the government not pay them.
“They are in effect saying ‘we don’t care if the country defaults on its debt obligations, but you better not default on paying us our salaries’. They could not have thought this position through, as their words are not backed up by the requisite action needed to make their political point. This is why I said that their declaration to vote ‘no’ on this budget is contradictory, hypocritical and political grandstanding – nothing more and nothing less.”
Dr Minnis said on Tuesday that FNM parliamentarians will not support the Christie administration’s “deceptive” 2014/2015 budget which seeks to borrow $343 million for the forthcoming fiscal year.
He said for the first time in history, the Opposition, which holds eight seats in the House, will vote against the budget. However, the fiscal plan will pass through the House and head to the Senate for debate because the Christie administration holds a 30-seat majority in the House.