298 total votes.
By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
MEMBERS of Parliament should make a minimum of $60,000 a year, according to Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard, who said the prime minister’s salary should also be raised to $200,000 a year.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Maynard, who is also the vice president of the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) said pay increases for parliamentarians is “long overdue.” He said MPs cannot live and do their jobs effectively on $28,000 a year.
Mr Maynard also said ministers of the government should be paid “at least $100,000”.
The prime minister’s salary is currently $86,000 a year and senior ministers of the government earn $66,000. State ministers receive $60,000.
Mr Maynard also said Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis was “dead wrong” when he opposed the salary increases in 2014 and now the issue is coming back to “haunt him”.
“I don’t see what the big deal is, pay the people what they need to be paid. I support the increase because you cannot expect them to work for $28,000,” Mr Maynard told The Tribune.
“I believe an MP should get at least $60,000. Dr Minnis was wrong back in 2014 when he run on with foolishness about the proposed pay increases. He should have never done that - now it’s coming back to haunt him. This issue needed to be sorted out back then and it needs to be sorted out now. Everyone keeps saying it’s never the right time, well it will never be the damn right time. It will never be done if we wait.
“Give Cabinet ministers $100,000. My minister (Minister of Works Desmond Bannister) makes (less than $100,000). Well the CEO of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) makes over $200,000. The general manager at Water and Sewerage makes $150,000. The permanent secretaries make more than the ministers and the ministers are in charge. That is not right. Now is the time and while you are at it, increase the prime minister’s salary to $200,000, that’s my opinion.”
When asked where the money for the increased salaries will come from, Mr Maynard said: “Trust me, they aren’t broke, if they want salary increases they will find the money.”
Last week, Dr Minnis announced his administration will raise the salaries of Members of Parliament in the next fiscal year.
His position is a turnabout from 2014 when, in response to the Christie administration’s desire for the same thing, 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 frequently laments the state of the country’s finances and the unemployment rate remains high.
In 2014, the Christie administration’s establishment of a parliamentary select committee to consider a salary increase for parliamentarians was widely criticised. It came mid-term as that administration’s popularity began to wane; the plan was ultimately scratched and MPs’ salaries remained the same.
At the time, Dr Minnis told the Nassau Guardian: “The FNM has not agreed to any salary increase.
“The FNM has agreed to refer it to an independent committee who would look at it. But under these austerity measures that we’re seeing today and hard times that Bahamians are experiencing, the FNM cannot agree, even if the report comes back, cannot agree at this particular time for any increase when many people outside are suffering, cannot pay their bills, are underpaid.”
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has said the party does not support the proposed salary increases under the Minnis administration.