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Mps’ Pay Will Need Economic Upturn

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

DEPUTY Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest yesterday said he believes “there will be an improvement to the country finances” in next year’s budget cycle when members of Parliament are expected to receive pay raises. 

Asked if he supported the proposed raise Mr Turnquest avoided directly answering the question but said: “I support fiscal responsibility, which cuts both ways.”

When pressed for further comment, he said he believes in “balance” and “give and take and results should be rewarded.”

The Minnis administration has been the target of fierce criticism since Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced two weeks ago that in the next budget he would present an increase for MPs who currently are paid $28,000 a 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.”

Several FNM MP’s have publicly voiced their support for the increases including Works Minister Desmond Bannister who told The Nassau Guardian last week a review of MPs’ salaries is long overdue. He applauded the prime minister for addressing the controversial issue.

Member of Parliament for Bains and Grants Town Travis Robinson, the youngest parliamentarian, told The Tribune a salary increase would help deter corruption as he compared current salaries for MPs to what janitors make. However, he told the Nassau Guardian last week he would not support a raise at the next budget if the government has not yet fulfilled its campaign promises to institute a tax-free zone in Over-the-Hill communities and eliminate value-added tax on breadbasket items and health services. 

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) also said they do not support the planned pay increases. PLP Leader Phillip “Brave” Davis said 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 Dr 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.”

Comments

baldbeardedbahamian 1 week ago

The members need a raise............................ Because they don't sit around and laze....................... But work twelve hours a day......................................... For very little pay............................................................. Or at least that's what they says............................

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John 1 week ago

Has Minnis really thought through the proposed amendment for citizenship? Bahamians can now sell of their sperm (males) or be paid to carry children (females) for foreigners. Then the children, who are Bahamian can apply to have their parents or other family members get status in the Bahamas. This also mean that thousands of Haitian children who may have one Bahamian parent will be eligible for citizenship. And of course with a corrupt legal system many of other nationalities will slide through the cracks and be granted citizenship for which they do not qualify. It is a very dangerous situation Minnis is creating. Just look what happened in Trinidad with the Indians after oil was discovered.

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jackbnimble 1 week ago

It's payback for the Haitian vote.

And by the way, people slipping through the cracks is now the norm in a system that "rewards" illegality. You break the law, and enter a country illegally, pop out a baby and 18 years later the baby has a right to apply for citizenship. Guess this is why 200 more escaped in the bushes on the weekend. They obviously do not intend to fix this loophole but are forging full speed ahead to add more classes of citizens to the pile instead of dealing with this glaring issue first.

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John 1 week ago

In The main time Donald Trump has signed a law that will see 50,000 to 60,000 Haitians deported before Thanksgiving 2017. "On May 24, 2017, USCIS announced the extension of the designation of Haiti for TPS for 6 months. This allows eligible Haitians (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Haiti) to re-register for TPS. During this 6-month extension, beneficiaries are encouraged to prepare for their return to Haiti in the event Haiti’s designation is not extended again, including requesting updated travel documents from the government of Haiti. At least 60 days before Jan. 22, 2018, Secretary Kelly will re-evaluate the designation for Haiti and will determine whether another extension, a re-designation, or a termination is warranted, in full compliance of the Immigration and Nationality Act."

Since Donald trump decided not to extend this agreement, Haitians affected by this status are asked to leave voluntarily rather than having to be deported. So authorities here in The Bahamas must prepare for another influx of immigrants, this time coming from the opposite direction.

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sheeprunner12 1 week ago

BOL ........ Do we expect this "ICU economy" to turn around in six months?????? ........ KPT is getting more ridiculous by the day!!!!!!!!!

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TalRussell 1 week ago

Comrade KP, using your logic if there is no economic upswing under the red shirts are we to also believe in “balance” and “give and take" - then shouldn't bad results not be rewarded with red shirts MP layoffs?

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John 1 week ago

The stock markets have been in in a downward spiral for several weeks. Is it in response to donald Trump's decision to restructure the tax law, giving businesses and high value Americans billions in tax cuts. The law will also see tax increases for lower and middle income individuals and families since a number of tax breaks currently available to them cease to be. Six months in and the Minnis' government has announced no new initatives to stimulate businesses and get the economy moving. Even tourism is at a standstill. Since may 2017 many businesses have saw a more than 30% decline in sales. This is on top of an economy that has been stagnant for several years. If nothing changes, for the better, many stores will close down shortly after the Christmas shopping season, after their hopes are dashed by weak holiday sales.

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Alex_Charles 6 days, 21 hours ago

The Bahamian economy hasn't been stagnant for several years, it's been contracting and only recently came out of 7 years of contraction with piss poor growth.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week ago

If Dr Minnis loves the Bahamas...

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