Politicians should be paid more, to wipe away temptations that may corrupt them. That call was made Friday by Joe Issa, executive vice-president of SuperClubs resorts. He said politicians will always be courted by persons who are willing to “tip handsomely.” However, he added “if politicians were paid enough money they would not have to yield to temptations.”
Mr. Issa, who was addressing Lucea Parish Church’s annual banquet at the Anglican Church Hall, admitted that the public may heap scorn on his idea. However, he compared the salary of Jamaican politicians to those of other professionals in the private sector, making specific reference to Finance Minister Dr. Omar Davies’s annual salary of $1,878,403, plus $500,000 for allowances, describing it as a lowly amount.
A chief accountant, Mr. Issa said, earned in excess of $3 million, and a financial controller takes home more than $5 million annually. A Member of Parliament , he added, is paid $1,087,039 plus allowances of about $350,000.
Mr. Issa credits KPMG Peat Marwick, one of the country’s most respected accounting firms, as his source of information about private sector salaries. Salaries of Members of Parliament came from a memo from Gordon House to Parliamentarians on April 1, 1999, he said.
“Looking at the Peat Marwich survey, I thought that if the politicians’ salaries were to be raised, based on the private sector then we will probably be able to attract that banker, real estate developer or computer whiz into representational politics,” he said.
“Maybe we could get people who are experts in these fields to handle that portfolio of the nation’s business, instead of hiring them as consultants in addition to paying the Minister, “ he added.
There were mixed reactions to Mr. Issa’s call among business people and politicians interviewed by The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.
“I totally agree with him, I believe my representative must be well paid,” said businessman Basil Johnson, managing director of Discount Lumber and Hardware, Montego Bay. “ Being underpaid is one of the motivations for corruption.”
Olivia “Babsy” Grange, deputy leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, also supported Mr. Issa.
However, she doesn’t believe more money will prevent corruption.
“I think that there are corrupt people everywhere, even in the private sector where salaries are much higher,” Miss Grange said.
But Gregory Mair, general secretary of the National Democratic Movement, does not support the call. He said the motivation should not be money, but to serve the country with honesty and integrity.
People’s National Party vice-president Dr. Peter Phillips, said that “whatever salary is paid, there should be sufficient accountability and transparency governing the system.” However, he added, “I am not accepting the premise that there is corruption. There are other deficiencies.”
Source: The Gleaner