Friday, 19 May 2023 12:48

Decision to increase politicians' salary not taken lightly, says Holness

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness has sought to address criticisms amid backlash following the announcement of salary hikes for the political directorate.
Mr. Holness said he had anticipated the responses but argued that the decision to increase the salaries was not taken lightly. He also hinted that there was a possibility that the directorate would not have received increases, noting that Cabinet "agonised" over the decision. 
"We know and respect the sensitivities over salaries, so we did not go out as a government and try to say everybody is getting basically on average a 20 per cent increase in their salaries as a base in the compensation review. We didn't do that.... But there is a false sense being created that somehow only one class of people have gotten increases," he argued. 
Mr. Holness echoed the rationale put forward by Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke that the increases were aimed at attracting the best candidates.
He said those who hold positions in the political directorate will have to perform as they will face greater competition from those seeking to enter politics. 
"There are many young people out there now who have started to look at entering the political field with higher educational qualifications, higher skill level, higher competencies. You are going to see as a result of this an increase, an improvement in the level of entrants coming into the political field. No questions asked." 
The Prime Minister also criticised the opposition for their "hypocricy and false indignation" following their about-turn relating to the salary increases for parliamentarians. 
He noted that the opposition had "quite rightly saw the logic" in the increases initially and "saw that it was in the best interest of developing a proper structure for the country in terms of compensation". But he said the government factored in the possibility that the opposition might shift position because the "political opportunity that it provides is just too much to resist". 
Mr. Holness was speaking Thursday at a floral tribute in honour of the 100th memorial of the birth of former Prime Minister Hugh Shearer.