EDITOR, The Tribune.
I have a need to address the issue of a pay raise for parliamentarians as I have supported this initiative under every government over the past 15-20 years.
Based on the overwhelmingly negative responses to even the suggestion of increases for parliamentarians, I have come to the conclusion, that for whatever reason these learned men have been put into a separate category of “public servant.” Whether we want to believe it or not, they are not special. They are hired to serve and they are our employees! In fact, we demand more of them than we demand of most public servants - some of us even contact them and demand they pay our mortgages and our electricity bills - but don’t want to pay them? Why is that?
We have all been concerned about corruption among politicians for decades and while I do not subscribe to the belief that paying someone would stop them from being corrupt, it appears the average Bahamian would rather see a politician steal from the public purse than make a decent salary. When I say decent salary, I am talking about one that coincides with their level of education, experience, job description and duties.
It appears every politician is seen to be filthy rich. While that may be the case for some, there are many parliamentarians who have dedicated their lives to service in politics and have not been wealthy. Believe it or not, some have even been left with little means after catering to the needs of so many! I also believe many who became rich, earned their wealth through corruption and ill gain....certainly not through the meager salaries they are paid.
I did some research after the uproar began and it appears that Bahamian parliamentarians are the lowest paid in the region. See attached downloaded online from the Turks & Caicos’ Integrity Commission’s website online (https://www.integritycommission.tc.)
I am all for increasing the salaries of parliamentarians to what is fair and reasonable and I am also very much in favour of holding them accountable to The Bahamian people.
My hope is that with the fiscal prudence and anti-corruption policy this FNM government has established, plans would be put in place to increase the salaries of ALL civil servants over time, ensuring they too are accountable to the Bahamian people through their work ethic and service.
November 3, 2017.