By Sharon T Turner
Few things assault a citizenry more than its government spending considerable time and resources making the case for how dire the nation’s finances are and how sacrifices must be made to save us from economic peril – only to have that same government turn around and tell those same citizens that while they must feel the pinch, their elected officials will be getting more money.
#1 – THE CUPBOARDS ARE BARE, REMEMBER? – and we are in times of “austerity”, but somehow you braved the dust bunnies in those bare cupboards to see your way clear to giving yourselves more money.
#2 – THE ECONOMY IS ON LIFE SUPPORT – with not a single national economic stimulus initiative of note announced for this current budget or the next, but you were able to at least determine that the upcoming budget will make provisions for you to give yourselves more money.
#3 – YOU SAID WE ARE IN FAR WORSE A STATE FINANCIALLY THAN YOU EXPECTED US TO BE – but it obviously is not bad enough to prevent you from determining that it is financially prudent to give yourselves more money.
#4 – WE ARE TOLD THERE ISN’T ENOUGH MONEY FOR CRITICAL IMPROVEMENTS AND UPGRADES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY – but there is apparently enough for you to be able to give yourselves more money.
#5 – YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE CUTTING EXPENDITURE – but every budget Head is apparently supposed to feel the pinch except for the budget Head wherein you will be allocating unto yourselves more money.
#6 – YOU HAVE ALREADY PROJECTED BEING $322M IN DEFICIT THIS BUDGET YEAR (even before the Hurricanes caused millions in damage and your plans to buy hotels) – and a deficit is simply the difference between what you take in and what you choose to spend; but that projected deficit isn’t wide enough that you shouldn’t seek to give yourselves more money.
#7 – YOU ARE FIRING BAHAMIANS FROM THE PUBLIC SECTOR – to save money you tell us, some of which you have apparently decided ought to in turn go to giving yourselves more money.
#8 – YOU INSTITUTED A HIRING FREEZE – again, to save money you tell us, except for what won’t be saved when you give yourselves more money.
#9 – GOV’T WORKERS CAN’T GET PAID THEIR ENTITLEMENTS ON TIME – while you not only get paid on time and in full, but by the next budget year it will be more money.
#10 – YOU’VE SAID THINGS ARE SO BAD THAT PROMISED TAX CUTS HAD TO BE PUT ON HOLD – but just six months into governance, you’ve decided that what should not be put on hold is giving yourselves more money.
Yes, Parliamentary salaries have not increased in over 25 years. And yes, it can be argued that no time would be a good enough time to raise MPs salaries. Merits of those points taken, how can now of all times, given all this country is facing financially and economically, be even remotely considered a good enough time? Why not wait until you have created financial and economic improvements for the nation before announcing improvements for yourselves?
AND BY THE WAY – Are all 39 MPs operating Constituency Offices with the $2,500 per month they receive to do so? And is the use of that money accounted for by each MP as prescribed by law? Because if not, guilty MPs are already pocketing unto themselves more money – on top of their salary which the government proposes to increase.