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Plp Draws Battle Line Over Mps' Pay

Opposition Leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis’ in the House of Assembly.

Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

Opposition Leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis’ in the House of Assembly. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

Reader poll

Do you think MPs should get a pay rise?

  • Yes 29%
  • No 71%

298 total votes.

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

THE Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) does not support the prime minister’s planned pay increases for members of Parliament, PLP Leader Phillip “Brave” Davis said yesterday, stressing the “personal needs of well off politicians” should not come before assisting poor Bahamians.

PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper also said he “categorically” does not support a raise for MPs and vowed to “vote no” when the matter is brought to the House of Assembly for debate.

In a statement, Mr Davis said if Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis believes parliamentarians cannot live on the salaries they are currently making, “he should place himself in the shoes of the thousands of Bahamians who live from hand to mouth, including those fired by his government.”

But last week, following Dr Minnis’ announcement, Mr Davis told The Tribune a salary increase for MPs is “overdue.” He said Dr Minnis should consider recommendations the former administration made rather than establish an entirely new committee to consider the matter.

And during the Christie administration’s last term, Mr Davis, then deputy prime minister was on board with a pay increase for politicians, insinuating it would curtail corruption.

In May 2014, when the former administration considered the matter, Mr Davis said: “(It would) remove the temptation for politicians to do things that are not right. Because if they (MPs) are earning a living by doing this, then there would be no need for them to do anything else, I think that’s what the Bahamian public has to understand.”

The issue was shelved after significant public outcry but was resurrected last week after Dr Minnis said his administration will increase MPs’ salaries in the next fiscal year – three years after he chided the PLP for speaking about doing the same thing.

Dr Minnis’ position is a turnabout from 2014, when he said: “As long as I am leader of this country the FNM would not support any pay increase with all the pain and suffering that is going on in this country.”

Since 2014, economic growth remains slow and the Minnis administration has frequently lamented the state of the country’s finances.

“This FNM government continues to produce the wrong remedies for the wrong time, and now it proposes to look after its own while many Bahamian families are hurting,” Mr Davis noted in a statement.

“This is, after all, a government whose minister of tourism fired tourism personnel in Grand Bahama, an island with the highest unemployment rate. If Hubert Minnis believes members of Parliament cannot live on the salaries they are currently making, he should place himself in the shoes of the thousands of Bahamians who live from hand to mouth, including those fired by his government.

“The government should focus its efforts on improving the economic livelihoods of the Bahamian people before enhancing their own, announce a strategic plan for sustainable economic growth, and reduce the pain of Bahamian families caused by their short-term fiscal consolidation policies,” Mr Davis continued. “The prime minister calls himself a man with a heart - where was that heart when children across this country struggled because their parents were made redundant?”

Meanwhile, while speaking to Progressive Young Liberals on Sunday night, Mr Cooper admitted a review of pay raises for MPs is “warranted,” however he said given the pressing issues the nation faces “this is not a priority and now is not the time.”

The Exuma and Ragged Island MP said: “After spending the last six months telling everyone how broke the country is, how damaged our finances were, supposedly because of how badly the PLP managed the economy, after freezing hiring in government, after stalling for months on paying contracts, after mandating that every ministry take a 10 percent budget cut, now the prime minister’s big idea is to give MPs a salary hike?

“I categorically don’t support a raise for MPs at this time, and I’m unlikely to support it during the next budget exercise if it is included, and let me explain why,” Mr Cooper continued.

“MPs have not had a raise in over 25 years and a review is warranted. However, given the pressing issues our nation faces this is not a priority! Now is not the time. Not to mention nearly ninety percent of the MPs now in Parliament are new to Parliament, they knew what the salary was for the job when they accepted it less than six months ago....

“Until the prime minister can explain how he plans to fulfil his campaign promises – including your free tuition at the University of the Bahamas – until he can tell us how he plans to lift the tide for the Bahamian people as a whole, including the reconstruction of Ragged Island, he does not have the support on the Progressive Liberal Party on this matter.

“This is not a pressing issue, it can and must wait. I will vote no.”

Mr Cooper said if it is decided that MPs’ salaries will be raised, he will “put the extra money into programmes for Exuma and Ragged Island, as I’m doing now.”

He also chastised Bains and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson for his comments on the issue and demanded Mr Robinson apologise to the Bahamian people.

Last Thursday, Mr Robinson, the youngest parliamentarian, told The Tribune a salary increase would help deter corruption.

“I think that $28,000 a year is highly ridiculous. Members of Parliament are being given janitorial salaries. It is no easy task out there and if we are serious about stemming this tide of corruption then we must have a balanced approach to it and I think this increase would give that balanced approach,” Mr Robinson said.

Asked to recommend a salary, he said: “I would say about $60,000 to $70,000 a year.”

In response, Mr Cooper said: “The people of Bain and Grants Town should be insulted.

“I suggest the prime minister counsel his young MP, have him apologise to the people he represents among whom there are many hardworking janitors, worthy of respect, who only wish they made what MPs do now. And maybe the prime minister can have a talk with Mr Robinson about how even the richest of people can still be corrupt. Corruption is an issue of character, not of compensation.”

Last week, PLP Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin also weighed in on the issue and called Dr Minnis’ plans a “crass contradiction.”

In a post on Facebook on Thursday, Mrs Hanna Martin referenced recent job cuts and the government’s statements concerning the state of the country’s economy.

In 2014, the Christie administration’s establishment of a parliamentary select committee to consider a salary increase for parliamentarians was widely criticised.

In opposition at the time, Dr Minnis said the FNM would not agree to an increase due to economic hardship faced by Bahamians, adding that a politician’s position was one of service.

In the Lower House on Thursday, Dr Minnis painted the intended increase as a sensible development, especially in light of the substantial salaries the former Christie administration paid some contract workers in the past five years.

“I want to put the country on notice that at the next budget I will come forward with a pay increase for the members of Parliament,” Dr Minnis said.

“I will establish an independent committee who will look at the members’ salaries, who will look at salaries for these half-a-million, these $800,000 and these contracts signed a few hours before election, all of that will be reviewed. (The committee will) review all salary structures for government entitles.”

• An earlier version of this story said: "The report from the former parliamentary select committee, which was headed by Dr Bernard Nottage, now deceased was never disclosed to the public." The Tribune would like to clarify that the report was read in Parliament by Dr Nottage in 2014.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 1 month ago

Yeah Brave doesn't support it now but let him get in office. I guarantee that'll be one of their first policy items....

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

Travis Robinson is out of order ......... he has a high school diploma and a few UB credits, little work experience and less street credit ........... If he is saying that he is susceptible to political corruption, well that is his dilemma ....... now that he has 5,000 ghetto constituents to feed, entertain and bury. The PLP started paying MPs salaries when they took over in 1967 ........ The UBP did it "for free". ........... Both were steeped in corruption ........ The FNM said that they would pay police and Customs more salary to stop corruption .......HOW DID THAT WORK OUT????????

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licks2 1 month ago

He supported when PGC was doing it. . .now it is no good? Doc has a better position than any of them crooks. . .he played politics three years ago. . .now reality sets in. . .he sees the need! We the peoples dem out here hope that doc will not listen to these PLPs out here calling the radio like they are some choir boys. . . full steam ahead. . .do what is right. . .NOW IF THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE WANT TO GIVE BRAVE AND HIS BAND OF LOOTERS THEIR GOVERNMENT AGAIN. . .LET THEM DO SO!! I can assure you. . .don't mind the PLP choir chant all over the radio. . .THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE WILL NEVER GIVE THEIR GOVERNMENT BACK TO THOSE MIS-FITS. . .ESPECIALLY UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF BD!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month ago

Just how much more insensitive can Minnis and his cabinet ministers, and their fellow FNM MPs, possibly be?! Only just six months in office and they are already proposing to increase their own salaries, having already become the beneficiaries of recently increased allowances!! Many Bahamians cannot even find a job and many more would be more than delighted to receive the current salary and benefits enjoyed by MPs, especially those MPs who have kept their daily jobs or careers in the private sector. And to think that Minnis and his fellow FNM MPs did not say a word about this ludicrous salary increase proposal during the FNM's general election campaign that was concluded a mere six months ago!!! Furthermore, the first thing Minnis and his cabinet ministers did on taking office was quickly claim that the PLP left the cupboard completely bare, with not a morsel or crumb to spare and only piles of debt to be paid to creditors and lenders alike!!!! Minnis and his fellow FNM MPs have not even established a performance record yet that would justify the ridiculously lavish and unaffordable pay increases that they now propose for themselves!!!!! In fact, the opposite is true....the track record so far has been one sorely lacking in vision and laden with way too many reckless errors in judgement and grave missteps. As the new sheriff in town, Minnis has yet to learn not to shoot-from-the-hips. He exhibits all the signs of suffering from a double-whammy of the God and Saviour complexes. Political power has unfortunately gone to Minnis's head in the worst possible way as evidenced by his increasing arrogance and the worshipping he craves so much from his fellow cabinet ministers who are only too quick to heave praise on him no matter what in the hope of currying favours of one kind or another for themselves. None of this augurs well for the future of Bahamians and the Bahamas. I remain most disappointed and disheartened by the conduct of the FNM government so far and pray Minnis and his cabinet ministers come to their senses on the abhorrent nature of the proposed salary increases for MPs.

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jackbnimble 1 month ago

I think Minnis has some broke people in Parliament who are crying out. He, Brave, Symonette and the rest DO NOT need the money. They rich without politics. Travis Robinson needs to sit small. He's making about $70,000 already with his political posts compared to not have diddly BEFORE the election. Think he trying to get rich in 5 years. To his credit, this makes him a true politician (sarcasm deliberately implied).

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Reality_Check 1 month ago

Why is Minnis making it so easy for such a small PLP opposition in the HOA to seem like they have the upper hand and better finger on the pulse of the Bahamian people?! It is utterly absurd for Minnis to lay his government open to accusations that the FNM MPs who desperately need a pay increase should not have been allowed to run by the party for elected office in the first place and that those who do not need a salary increase are just plain greedy. If the majority of FNM MPs have not achieved the financial wherewithal in their own right to aspire to and hold elected office, then one must ask why did the FNM party nominate them to begin with?! And if they have not achieved financial independence in their own right, then how can they possibly be expected to make the right decisions in parliament regarding matters pertaining to the financial well-being of most Bahamian people and our country?! And it is truly a sad indictment of the character and integrity of the majority of FNM parliamentarians for any FNM supporter to suggest the pay increase is necessary to deter them from engaging in corrupt activities!! In summary, the Minnis proposed pay increase for parliamentarians wreaks of selfishness, is a huge political blunder, and calls into question the calibre of the majority of nominees put forward for elected office by the FNM party in the last general election.

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licks2 1 month ago

I think that doc will back-off the pay rise for now. . .a gift back to the Bahamian people for giving him the "biggest" pill to get swollow . . .one that Papa nor PGC could get down! He gets about a 50 PLP--50 FNM draw in getting this one pass the "people" test. . .but on the citizenship one. . .20 PLP to 80 FNM.

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Reality_Check 1 month ago

You are clearly out of touch with how most Bahamians view the citizenship issue you refer to.

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John 1 month ago

Many businesses are complaining that these are the worst six months they have experienced in recent times. One friend who has a store says not only has the economy dried up, but it has blown away, especially after the hurricane threats in October. The government seems not concerned or powerless to make some impact and cause things to turn around. The strategy of piling on more taxes will eventually backfire because it continues to leak the money supply out of the economy. Government proposes pay increases for themselves effective in six months. For God's sake do something for the thousands of poor, unemployed and suffering and show that you deserve the pay increase.

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jamesg30 1 month ago

I am sorry. But if we want to continue to only have millionaire MP's representing all of us, we better raise the pay to be an MP. So easy for the attorney's and thieves that are normally the only constituents that can afford to work a full time job for $28,000 a year as MP's, but what about that fresh, honest, "person for the people" we are wanting to attract to running for office? Does any of us think that $28,000 a year to put up with the insanity of politics would be worth it? NO!!! so by default, only those independently wealthy run for office. Temptation for bribery in office could be reduced if the job paid a wage that a Bahamian, and his or her family, can live on. PLP making a raise for MP"s an issue when they have been robbing the country blind of millions for the past years is a distraction that should not be noticed. Yes, pay MP's more and get better, hard working, less elite individuals to consider running for office. Otherwise, be fooled by these fools making a big deal about paying a fair wage for a job that most people would not want.

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Porcupine 1 month ago

I am left with little hope for this country. The level of discourse is infantile. This issue and the subsequent fallout shows how far we have to go before we are able to reason like adults. We are a simplistic, selfish childish nation of hypocrites who rush to church each weekend to ........................ With the egos of "leaders" such as Brave and Minnis, an improvement in our country's status is near impossible. Both are full of shit, but seem to be representative of their constituents.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month ago

The truly hurtful part in all of this is that we really only need about half of the MPs, Senators and Cabinet Ministers that we currently have given the population of our nation, and notwithstanding its archipelagic nature. And why does our new PM need a press secretary when there has always been a whole government department devoted to getting government's message out to the people? Since the FNM victory this past May, Minnis has allowed his head to become intoxicated with power to the point where it seems to be floating high in the clouds with little or no regard to the real world that most Bahamians struggle every day to live in. Well it's now high time he bring his head back to terra firma where it belong!

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baldbeardedbahamian 1 month ago

the politicos want more money,......... but the rest of us think it is funny........................ that they didn't mention a thing.............................. when they was trying to get in................................. But waited 'til govment was sunny.......................

government in the sunshine? or was that just fnm1.0 ? ?????

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themessenger 1 month ago

“More pay would remove the temptation for politicians to do things that are not right, because if if they (MPs) are earning a living by doing this (raising their pay), then there would be no need for them to do anything else.” This from Brave Davis when he was trying to sell MP pay raises during the Christie Guvment, I guess dey tief enough in the last five years they don't need no raise now.

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