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D’Aguilar: Mps Need Money To Help Their Constituents

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

FREE TOWN MP Dionisio D’Aguilar yesterday said parliamentarians would not be able to satisfy the overwhelming need of constituents even if their salaries were doubled.

Mr D’Aguilar, also Minister of Tourism and Aviation, gave his full support for the proposed salary hike, telling reporters MPs were constantly forced to balance charitable ambitions with personal finances.

He called the current pay “negligible” and suggested any increase given to MPs would be injected directly into their constituencies.

“It’s such a tiny amount of money to help all of the needs of your constituents,” Mr D’Aguilar said.

“I don’t care what any MP says, I am 100 percent certain that almost all of them spend all of that money on their constituents. You need funds to assist. You’re constantly being drawn between trying to help them and not bankrupting yourself and this is the problem every time.”

He added: “So the more you give me, the more I’ll give back and obviously I have to dip into my own pocket on top of that.”

When asked about internal controls to track spending, Mr D’Aguilar said as an accountant he believed everyone should be able to “account for their funds.” He noted Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest has indicated the $100,000 capital expenditure for each MP’s constituency will only be released in $25,000 increments every three months.

“And in order to get the next one (increment),” he said, “you have to produce the paperwork to show how you spent the previous $25,000. He’s an accountant, he’s no fool, that’s a clever way to do it.”

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced he would present a salary increase for MPs in the next budget cycle. At the time, he said he would create an independent committee to look at the members’ salaries and review the salary structure for government entitles.

“Let’s do an analysis of it,” Mr D’Aguilar said outside of Cabinet yesterday. “It’s $28,000. In Free Town, I’ve got 9,000 constituents, 4,500 are registered.

“We get $538 a week to tend to the needs of 9,000 constituents. I don’t know about my colleagues, but I give every single dollar that I make to my constituency. So my belief is the more you give me the more I can give to my constituents to help with back to school, catastrophes, there’s always a compelling need to help your constituents.”

Dr Minnis’ announcement immediately sparked immense backlash from the general public and the Official Opposition.

It also represents a change in Dr Minnis’ 2014 position, 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.”

Yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar said: “It’s never the right time, never the right time to ask for an increase for a MP. They always say that, you ask one month, ten months from now, they’ll say it’s the wrong time. Seems unreasonable to me.

“The complaint is often ‘oh I ain’ see my MP, my MP ain’ helping us.’ It seems that the Bahamian people want us to assist them but they don’t want to us to provide the financial resources to do so. You got to be reasonable.

“I think it’s been proven time and time again just because you give to your constituents, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to guarantee a vote from them. They not going to necessarily vote for you. I just think there are people who have fallen on hard times and more often than not $538 a week just isn’t going to suffice to try and make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.”

The Free Town MP added: “It’s just impossible and even if you double the MPs’ pay, I don’t think you’d be able to fulfil all the requests, so whatever you throw this Member of Parliament, it is going to go into my constituency.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Re-post: Minnis really needs to grow a pair and take direct personal responsibility for his recent MP salary increase blunder while standing on the floor of the HOA. After hiding behind a few of his favourite "Yes" men in cabinet (Bannister, Pintard and now D'Aguilar), we now see him once again hiding behind his press secretary. For Minnis to have said, only six months after the general election, that FNM MPs want and deserve a generous salary increase "in order to better serve and accommodate the needs of their constituents" is absurdly ridiculous. Minnis should be forthrightly telling all of his FNM MPs that the practice of MPs personally giving financial aid and/or handouts of any other kind to their constituents, in exchange for political support, must immediately cease. In a fair democracy where each voter should be regarded as having an equal vote, Minnis should not be encouraging, supporting or otherwise tolerating any type of 'vote buying', period!

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mandela 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Well then stimulate the economy, constituent's don't want or need handouts they want jobs, they would love to catch their own fish, Mr. D'Aguilar sounds like he would rather feed his constituents and have them need him to survive, as to have them catch their own fish and not need him to survive.

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birdiestrachan 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Are these fellows serious ? they just reach Persons like doctor Nottage and Mr. Christie have been helping their constituents for many years, No body sent for those FNM fellows they wanted the job at all cost .The same place they went to get the money to win the election go back there for the money to help the people who are in need.

Oh I ain see my MP My MP ain helping us What an insult to the Bahamian people besides he says because the MP helps them it does not mean they will vote for the MP Welcome to the club. Shame on this man. But he did say he can not find Bahamians to manage his wash houses. ;

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Cas0072 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Their constituents will be just fine if they carry out their mandate which includes providing jobs and lowering the cost of living.

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks, 6 days ago

D'Aguilar is presenting the UBP-style approach that has permeated politics ever since ........ It is fascinating that 3 "poor" MPs (Taylor, Cartwright & Stevenson) devised the PLP vision, but the same old Bay Street Boys culture of hand-outs quickly changed the SLOP version of the PLP.

The dependency on MP hand-outs is at the root of Bahamian political corruption and status quo. This is why Bahamian politics will not change because party philosophy is paralysed by the need to satisfy constituents' wants ........ rather than shifting the social, economic and political culture of the nation.

If your constituents have specific needs - food, housing, burial, utilities etc., then create facilities within each constituency office to assist them via social services, churches or NGOs that MP allowances can be funneled through ..... but digging into your MP pocket sends a bad message about who is dependent on who, and the MP/voter relationship should not be based on money favours.

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Porcupine 3 weeks, 6 days ago

You are right. Half will go directly into he MP's pockets, the other half for party loyalty. The FMN are just the other side of the same old, sad coin.

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BahamasForBahamians 3 weeks, 6 days ago

This is an indictment on the Bahamian public, especially the people of Freetown.

Essentially what "Denuncio" as Rodney Moncur would call him is saying is, the people of Freetown are dependent on cash hand outs. He's also openly admitting that he's doing nothing to curb that culture and would prefer to continue the cash handouts even to an extent that he's asking for more money.

Teach a man to fish Denuncion, do not make him dependent on your fish handouts!

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jackbnimble 3 weeks, 6 days ago

But MP's HAVE money to help their constituents. $100,000 budgeted annually to clean parks, assists with scholarships, etc., etc. They write the Minister of Finance and as long as it is a genuine request, the funds are given. Stop talking nonsense!

Further, there is no guarantee that if you increase their salary, they will use it (as it is their personal salary) to help their constituents. We have no way of knowing that because the only thing that's accounted for is the $100,000 per annum. A salary increase to "help constituents" is foolishness!

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Agreed ............. except the rich MPs see it as a "stipend" ....... hence DD comments.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks, 5 days ago

There is no longer any doubt in my mind that the constantly yapping little white-haired poodle sees all MPs like himself as elitist entitled overlords with responsibility for directly distributing crumbs to their poor dumb D- educated constituents in exchange for political support. The fact that D'Aguilar is a well known customs duty dodger really does say all there is to say about his character and integrity.

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Reality_Check 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The yapping little white-haired poodle has over the years been heard to say over and over again: "I owe the success of my family's SuperWash laundry business to uncontrolled illegal immigration. Undocumented Haitians and Jamaicans in the Bahamas are my bread and butter. Therefore the more of them the merrier as far as I'm concerned."

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