The Advocates Network (AN), an influential group advocating for good governance, has expressed cautious optimism regarding the PNP’s evolving position on the recently announced salary increases for the political directorate.
The AN believes that the party must do more to address the issue adequately.
The controversy surrounding salary increases began on May 16, when Julian Robinson unequivocally endorsed the raises in Parliament but later that same day, the PNP issued a press release expressing strong objection to the massive salary increases for ministers and members of parliament (MPs).
The party stated that these increases could not be justified without first resolving the disaffection felt by civil servants due to the flawed public sector compensation restructuring exercise.
Although the PNP has now called for a rollback of all salaries for the political directorate, the AN believes that this step alone is insufficient. To prevent a recurrence of such a fiasco, the AN insists that the PNP demand accountability measures, including effective legislative oversight of executive decisions, in the ongoing constitutional reform process, specifically in Phase 1.
Since May 17, the AN has been advocating for immediate disclosure of established accountability measures, a rollback of salary increases for the political directorate to a maximum of 20% in line with other public sector workers until an independent report is produced on the performance of each MP and minister, and the inclusion of an appropriate accountability framework in Phase 1 of the constitutional reform process.
The AN further highlighted the Prime Minister’s decision to roll back his salary and demanded that if one salary could be rolled back, then all salaries for the political directorate should be rolled back. Opposition Leader Mark Golding, in a recent press briefing last Wednesday (May 24), echoed the AN’s call to roll back the salary increases for all members of the political directorate.
Golding also supported the establishment of an independent commission to determine salaries, ensuring equity across the public sector and alignment with Jamaica’s economic performance. The AN urges the PNP to push for the inclusion of an independent commission and other necessary legal and institutional arrangements to ensure accountability in the new constitution.
The AN welcomed the JLP’s Young Jamaicans’ call on May 17 for measures to enhance accountability, strengthen oversight of representatives, and hold non-performing representatives accountable through active participation in parliamentary committee meetings and municipal corporation meetings. The AN emphasized the importance of embedding such measures in the constitution.
Notably, the AN acknowledged the Leader of the Opposition’s presence at the AN’s “RollBack200” lunchtime protests, which aimed to urge the government to reconsider the salaries of the political directorate. The AN hopes that this presence signifies the Opposition’s support for all the advocacy demands, including the call for an appropriate and acceptable accountability framework in Phase 1 of the constitution reform process.
As leaders with a “higher moral duty,” the AN urges both parties to prioritize the interests of the nation and its citizens. The AN maintains that the current position of both the PNP and the JLP falls short of expectations. They call upon the political leaders to rise to the occasion, listen to the Jamaican people, and find equitable and fair solutions to resolve this matter.