EDITOR, The Tribune.
I was flabbergasted after reading reports yesterday that Rodney Smith, whose reappointment to the College of The Bahamas (COB) presidency by the council of that tertiary institution was confirmed in mid-August by the Progressive Liberal Party government, is requesting a mind-boggling annual salary of $400,000.
Never mind that amount being three times greater than the Prime Minister’s annual income or five times greater than the Police Commissioner’s yearly intake or more than twice the size of the preceding COB president’s salary; if the PLP accedes to Dr Smith’s outrageous request, his annual salary would be on par with Barack Obama’s presidential salary of $400,000.
COB’s student population is approximately 5,000, I think, with a faculty numbering about 600. So Dr Smith, who resigned as COB president in 2005 after being accused of intellectual theft, wants $400,000 to head an institution with a population of less than 10,000, while President Obama, who earns the amount of money Dr Smith is bargaining for, heads a trillion dollar global and military superpower state with an estimated population of 330 million.
The issue here is not whether Dr Smith’s pay request would be commensurate with his educational background, experience or the nature and extent of his duties at COB. The issue here is whether a cash-strapped institution which relies heavily on government subventions annually can afford to meet his outrageous and unreasonable demand.
According to The Nassau Guardian, COB received $18m this fiscal year and $21m last year. Clearly, COB is not in the position to be paying any of its staff members a nearly half-million dollar salary, as it has been a perennial leech on the government since its formation in the 1970s. What’s more, Dr Smith’s request suggests that he is either woefully oblivious of The Bahamas’ abysmal financial condition or he is just being indifferent and cavalier to the plight of the Bahamian people – many of whom are catching eternal hell.
We are merely three months away from the January 1, 2015, inauguration of the Value Added Tax regime, which was passed into law to rescue the Bahamian economy. The government must demand that Dr Smith lower his salary request by at least $250,000. I believe $150,000 is more than reasonable, considering the unfortunate circumstances the country finds itself in.
If Dr Smith digs in his heels, then the government should simply move on to the next prospective presidential candidate. Considering the plagiarism charge which hung over his head in 2005, Dr Smith should have been over elated that COB even gave him the time of the day.
The $400,000 salary request smacks of unreasonableness and irrationality: if it is granted, it will cause an uproar among thousands of Bahamians.
September 29, 2014.