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Addressing inherited structural deficits

As the new government takes on its transformational agenda, the prime minister said it is not pie in the sky, but one that is hinged on a shared vision for a sustainable, equitable and prosperous Grenada. At the first sitting of the House, PM Mitchell revealed that salaries of Government Ministers and Members of Parliament (MP) will be reviewed since he thinks more money is needed for good representation in the different constituencies. The argument he has put forward for the MPs is that by simply paying four salaries in an office and not giving an MP a budget, is a recipe for disaster and corruption.

This idea of reviewing the salaries was discussed in different circles with some people hailing it as a good move. One such person is Kennedy Bhudlal (KB), a political activist for the previous government. In a radio programme, KB chided the NDC of the past and also the NNP for the low salaries paid which he termed as taking advantage of people. He strongly expressed that no Prime Minister should work for that small salary of $8,000. He also expressed disgust of the deplorable conditions he has seen in some MP’s offices. In supporting the new PM’s promise to raise the salaries, he also called for nice air conditioned parliamentary offices for which the government must pay.

KB also wants to see that, in the event of a new MP taking over, he or she should inherit that treatment. What is of note here is that the previous government which he openly supported, had allegedly outsourced the furnishing of the MP’s offices to a private company and so after the last general elections which brought in this new government, the MP for Carriacou and Petite Martinique revealed that he got an empty office; everything including the computers were mysteriously removed.

In direct reference to the salaries, KB said that the people serving at the highest level should not be paid what he calls starvation salary. Using MP Emmalin Pierre as one example, he is calling for the government to pay her $5,000 a month to service her constituency. The political activist holds strongly that there is the need to pay them well in order for them to perform with distinction. Interestingly, in 2018 when MP Tobias Clement who became the opposition leader, protested the low payment he received he got very little support. Tobias was paid $1200 per sitting while members of the senate receive $800. The last increase was in 1999. In taking a firm stand, Clement said he will write a cheque to give back the government what he was paid in protest of the amount starting in May, 2018. No other legislator supported him.

The Speaker of the House said then, that he was looking forward to a review of salaries of Members and hinted that there will be an investigation into the matter by the committee of privilege. Former MP Anthony Boatswain, as a back bencher, also called for a review during a sitting of the House. However, the salaries remained with no change from that government of the day.

KB is calling for a monthly salary of $10,000 to $15,000 for MPs and $20,000 to $25,000 for prime

ministers

Today, an NNP activist who revealed on Real FM that he helped Dr Keith Mitchell to overthrow PM Blaize at a convention, is expressing embarrassment and shame on the fact that the NNP government he supports was paying the opposition EC$1200.00 a month. He expressed that members of the Imani programme are getting more money than MPs. KB is calling for a monthly salary of ten to fifteen thousand dollars for politicians and twenty to twenty five thousand a month for prime ministers. Maybe in hindsight, he is now seeing that the NNP and NDC of the past were taking advantage of parliamentarians as he called them hypocrite.

Again in supporting the new prime minister, he stated that NNP knew the money was not enough, and likewise the NDC of the past knew the money was not enough; but they were not saying anything.

This newspaper agrees that the people who are leading the country must be paid well to avoid corruption. And that Parliamentarians must be given adequate resources in order to be held accountable in respect of real representation.

But on another radio programme it was revealed that the activist is now on a new role, allegedly undermining the NNP’s leader in a bid to get MP Peter David to lead the party into the next election. We can only ask if it is at all true that MP David has gotten a new job in Dominica and is threatening to leave Grenada if Dr Mitchell will not hand over the leadership of the party to him? What we do know is that if MP David should say goodbye, this will call for a by-election. Again, time alone will tell.

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