The Private Sector Organisation Of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) acknowledge the recent announcements by the Minister Of Finance, Dr Nigel Clarke, regarding the salary increases for the country’s political directorate.
While the PSOJ and JMEA do not object to an increase in principle, the organisations believe that it should be in keeping with our macroeconomic realities and accompanied by a transparent accountability system that will allow citizens to assess the performance of the political directorate.
There has undoubtedly been a lack of communication with the public on the justification for these significant increases at a time when sections of our population suffer from the effects of high inflation and many years of low economic growth. The Government has a responsibility to demonstrate how the public sector compensation review process will positively impact our social and economic performance, given that these increases will bring the public sector salaries to nearly 12% of GDP, which is well above the target of 9%.
The PSOJ and JMEA firmly believe implementing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and job descriptions for all parliamentarians and Ministers is crucial. Although this matter has been long discussed and promised, it must now be treated as a matter of urgency to ensure that our officials are performing effectively and commensurate with the investment from the Jamaican public. We see no reason why the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service cannot be tasked with evaluating the performance of the Ministers and reporting same to the Cabinet or directly to the Honourable Prime Minister. The public expects a significant improvement in their performance given these very large increases.
Furthermore, the PSOJ and JMEA call for the quick passing of the Constitution Impeachment Amendment Act, 2021 in Parliament. The Act serves as an integral tool in demanding accountability from those who hold legislative office, effectively addressing the Government’s failures and holding officials involved in corruption responsible. Additionally, this bill is necessary to ensure that politicians are held to account for misusing public resources and neglecting their duties.
Given the significant increases that have been approved, the PSOJ and JMEA join in calling for further consideration of the recommendations from the Carl Stone Report commissioned by the Michael Manley administration in 1990. The recommendations include allowing citizens to recall poor-performing Members of Parliament and implementing special training courses for politicians.
Moreover, the PSOJ and JMEA urge members of the public to utilise the tools available through the Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP) to track the performance of elected officials. Increased use of these tools will empower citizens to monitor the performance of their elected representatives and ensure transparency in the political process.
Going forward, it is also important for the Government to implement a system for regular objective salary adjustment to prevent a repeat of the current situation – long periods of no adjustment in salary followed by massive increases in salaries.
The PSOJ and JMEA reiterate our commitment to advocating for transparency, accountability, and good governance in Jamaica. We call upon the Government to take immediate action in implementing measures that will reassure citizens of its commitment to good governance and improved productivity.