The People’s National Party (PNP) is leading public objections to substantial salary increases for parliamentarians and other members of the political directorate, as announced by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke yesterday (May 16).
The Opposition slammed what it considered “a demonstration of misplaced priorities”, given that the Holness-led Government is yet to assuage civil servants amid the ongoing public sector compensation restructuring exercise.
Minister Clarke, providing context in the House of Representatives, disclosed that salary revisions administration-wide—coming in at $1.7 billion over fiscal years 2022-23, 2023-24, 2024-25— were made to entice future political leaders.
He stressed, however, that the Jamaican Judiciary “continues to be the highest paid branch of Government”.
The PNP, in its statement, noted that while an increase was due for ‘diligently working parliamentarians’, the nearly 200 per cent salary increase in some respects is difficult to justify when public servants still await fair compensation for their service to the nation.
Claiming that it was not consulted by the Government, the Opposition further disclosed that it was merely left to voice its “political non-objection” after the decision came into effect.
In the meantime, the PNP is urging the Government to “immediately return to the negotiation table with the unions representing public servants”.
“The government must recognise its responsibility to deliver a fair and just remuneration package for all public servants, before seeking to look after the interests of the political class,”
See statement in full:
“The People’s National Party (PNP) strongly objects to a massive salary increase for cabinet ministers and members of parliament having been announced today by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government, without the government first having satisfactorily addressed the serious disaffection of many dedicated teachers, nurses, police officers and other civil servants arising out of the flawed public sector compensation restructuring exercise.
This decision was made by the Government, without any consultation with the Opposition other than to seek our political non-objection to the decision when it was already made.
Jamaica’s public servants have tirelessly served our nation, often under difficult circumstances, and are deserving of fair and equitable compensation for their contribution to the nation. The recent salary restructuring has left many of them feeling marginalised and under-valued, and the opposition condemns the government’s failure to address their concerns while lavishly rewarding cabinet ministers and members of parliament a massive increase, in what is a clear demonstration of misplaced priorities.
While some parliamentarians work diligently and deserve an increase in remuneration, it is morally indefensible to grant such a significant raise while so many of our dedicated public servants have seriously lost out and are utterly demoralised by the lack of equity in the recent salary restructuring.
In light of this situation, the PNP demands that the government immediately return to the negotiation table with the unions representing public servants. The government must recognise its responsibility to deliver a fair and just remuneration package for all public servants, before seeking to look after the interests of the political class.”
Dr Clarke said that among the persons who will benefit under the revised salary structure are the prime minister, deputy prime minister, finance minister, senior Cabinet ministers, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, state ministers, parliamentary secretaries, opposition leader, and Members of Parliament. Mayors, deputy mayors and councillors at the local government level will also see adjustments.
As at April 1,2023, the prime minister’s modified salary jumps roughly 277 per cent from J$9.16 million to (in April 2021) to J$25.26 million, which rises further to J$28.58 effective April 1, 2024.
The deputy prime minister’s salary will move to $20.09 million in the first year, $22.7 million in the second year, and $25.7 million in year three.
The finance minister will see adjustments of $19.2 million, with effect from April 1, 2022; $21.7 million, effective April 1, 2023; and $24.5 million, effective April 1, 2024.
The salary of the Leader of the Opposition will increase to $20 million, effective April 1, 2022; $22.7 million, April 1, 2023; and $25.7 million with effect from April 2024.
Finance Minister Clarke advised, however, that previous housing and telephone allowances have been discontinued.