Bishop Dr Alvin Bailey, head of the Holiness Christian Church and president of the Jamaica Evangelical Alliance has described the decision by the government to substantially increase the salaries of parliamentarians as a “blatant and unconscionable assault on the country’s recovering fiscal standing”.
He also called on the Minister of Finance, Dr Nigel Clarke, to withdraw the plan which Bishop Bailey said was a “shameful and immoral decision.”
Clarke, on Tuesday (May 16) announced salary increases totalling $1.7 billion for members of the political directorate under the revised public-sector-compensation structure.
The adjustments will cover the three-year period from 2022/23 to 2024/25, consistent with the timeline for the wider civil service under the new regime.
“This move shows insensitivity on the part of the government, especially as the Minister cited economic constraints as the reason he appealed to members of the public sector to accept the recent compensation packages that were below their expectations,” Bishop Bailey said.
Hard-working citizens short-changed
In addition, he said it seemed the Minister of Finance had short-changed many hard-working Jamaicans to guarantee high salaries for his colleagues and political friends, with the approval of the Opposition – the latter of which is now backtracking on its support following public outcry.
He noted that the acceptance by the parliamentarians of the “unjustifiable, astronomical increases in salaries” at this time has seriously compromised their moral authority, especially as they are yet to convince the average Jamaican that they are giving value for money in representing the needs of the citizens, as well as managing the country’s resources with equity and without giving priority to their greed.
“This latest round of proposed salary increases, guaranteed over three years, has demonstrated that both government and opposition members are seeking to secure their standard of living in the coming years, which will be way above that of the average Jamaican,” Bishop Bailey noted.
The clergy said he would be promoting a public campaign, with the support of the church, private sector, and all well-thinking Jamaicans both locally and abroad, to speak out against this injustice to the citizens of Jamaica and said he was prepared to protest until the increase was satisfactorily reviewed.