Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ announcement of forthcoming accountability measures for ministers and Members of Parliament (MP’s) has drawn criticism from the Advocates Network, who argue that job descriptions and accountability measures should precede salary increases to ensure transparency and justification for the use of taxpayers’ funds.
The group has also labeled the Prime Minister’s methods as backward and is demanding that the salaries be withheld until the political leaders have accountability standards.
They noted that a comprehensive accountability framework for elected parliamentarians in the Stone Committee Report was to be made in 1991 and remains unfulfilled, despite previous promises from Holness to hold the Ministers accountable.
“The Advocates Network maintain that job descriptions and accountability measures must come before not after salary increases so that the taxpayers will know what performance indicators have been met to justify the salary increases that will be paid by their hard-earned tax dollars. Another promise of accountability and performance standards is [unacceptable]!” the group wrote in a release.
They noted that while campaigning on February 7, 2016, Andrew Holness said his Administration would institute impeachment proceedings in Parliament within the first 100 days, stating: “This will add another layer of protection of the Parliament to ensure that only members of unquestioned integrity sit in the Parliament.”
However, the group noted that this promise remains unfulfilled.
Additionally, they noted that in February 2017, during a review of the one-year performance of his Government, Holness told Cabinet Ministers that they had six more months to prove to him that they
deserve to keep their jobs and stated that “job descriptions are actually being prepared.”
However, the group notes that the review is another promise that remains unfulfilled.
“We now demand that the Prime Minister act on his many promises before payment of any salary increase to the political directorate. We note the Prime Minister’s agreement with the public outcry for accountability and performance standards, and we remind the Prime Minister that accountability is good performance accounting with legislative oversight,” they wrote.
Additionally, the group is demanding that the following actions be taken.
- Immediate disclosure and wide dissemination of the already established series of accountability measures
- Roll back of the salary increases for the political directorate to no more than 20% in line with other public sector workers until an independent report is produced on the performance of each MP and Ministers of government. The report must justify the scale of the salary proposed.
- The inclusion of an appropriate and acceptable accountability framework in PHASE 1 of the constitution reform process.
They note the accountability framework in the constitution should include, among other things: the promised job description for MPs, Ministers and the proposed Head of State for the Republic of Jamaica, the promised Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians, and a restructured Senate and House of Representative to provide effective legislative oversight and scrutiny of executive actions.
The Advocates Network will be organizing daily “Lunch-time” protests from 12 noon to 2pm at the National Heroes Circle Park starting Wednesday, May 24, 2023. They are encouraging Jamaicans to join them and make your voice heard about the salary increases.