By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
PARLIAMENTARIANS agreeing to give themselves raises and build a new parliamentary complex is a “slap in the face” to the Bahamian people, DNA Leader Branville McCartney said yesterday.
Speaking to the press, Mr McCartney said it is obvious that the PLP and the FNM are only concerned with lining their pockets and the pockets of their loved ones and couldn’t care less about the Bahamian people.
“It is our understanding that the select committee, made up of the government as well as opposition, agreed for politicians, parliamentarians to get an increase in salaries and bonuses. We find this amazing to say the least given the circumstances that we face in this country,” he said.
“If you are interested in becoming a Member of Parliament or a Cabinet Minister, your first priority is to the Bahamian people.
“You do not go in there to get a career. FNMs and PLPs have agreed to increase their salaries at a time when the Bahamas is still facing one of the worst economic recessions in history.
“It is nothing more than a slap in the face to the Bahamian people. The people are suffering and losing their jobs, losing their homes. We have a society that is not safe and they are talking about increasing their salaries as opposed to dealing with and investing in main issues of this country. We have circumstances in this country where the government said they do not have the money to do certain things.
“For instance, they do not have the money to pay civil servants, they are outstanding in payments to police, they failed to give customs and immigration overtime because they are saying they do not have the money. Every month they are scrapping to pay the civil service but yet they want to fill their own pockets.”
Even more disheartening, according to Mr McCartney, is the Opposition members who “signed off on this foolishness” with the government.
“Even more disheartening is the stand taken by members of the official Opposition who were also represented on the government’s select committee and who reportedly signed off on these recommendations. Clearly the Free National Movement is failing in its mandate to keep the government’s feet to the fire, choosing instead to align itself with an administration whose only agenda since taking office has been to line their own pockets and those of their friends, families and loved ones.
“Again, we in the DNA question how, during the worst economic recession in recent memory, can our elected officials be more concerned about securing higher pay cheques for themselves when the rights of those they took an oath to protect continue to be violated? The government and opposition continue to operate as two sides of the same corrupt coin with no regard for the needs of this developing nation.”
Despite the country’s significant fiscal constraints, a government-appointed select committee recommended that the Christie administration build a new House of Assembly complex during this parliamentary term, National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage announced on Wednesday.
The select group further recommended an increase of salaries for MPs and the Deputy Speaker.