The issue could have been presented in contrast.
The PPP’s Clement Rohee has lambasted the Coaltion’s decision to hike the salaries/ pay raises of government ministers by an outrageous fifty percent. Rohee opened up his ideology reference book and looked under chapter, Salaries. He noted that former PPP leader Cheddi Jagan was a proponent of proportional payment. It was Cheddi’s doctrine that a ‘donkey cart economy’ cannot reward its politicians with ‘Cadillac salaries’.
This was how the PPP said they would pay their Ministers.
Clement closed the book and opened his mouth.
He forgot to note that Cheddi Jagan’s doctrine on remuneration to politicians was indexed to the economy and adjusted up and down to reflect economic growth and contractions.
Maybe this was too academic a concept for Clement to grasp.
So, when he started his opposing, as is expected of the Opposition, he didn’t realize that he would have to explain how PPP government officials realized such personal wealth if their salaries, their pay raises, were indexed to a flailing economy. He didn’t expect to have to explain how the ‘donkey cart’ living wage could have garnished the Pradoville opulence or the stretch Hummers and Banquet halls realty, or pay tuition to educate family members overseas or go on shopping junkets to foreign countries. He didn’t expect to be asked if getting gasoline and gas from Guyoil at the tax payers’ expense was one of the offset perks to the salary bracket nor did he expect to be asked to explain the top up of cell phone minutes to the tune of millions on tax payers backs.
In short, Rohee expected to engage in his hollow recitations of doctrine and ideology, with enough droning to bore us in to not asking pertinent questions.
And he almost got away with it because the government’s response was an unforgivably imprudent slinging together of words, the kind that confirms that this Administration still lacks the Communications and Public Relations expertise it needs to ease its intentions on to the electorate.
With puerile defiance and political improficiency ,they mucked up the first big opportunity to show their genuineness to the people who slid them over the finish line. With the poorest choice of words and ill-timed swagger, they transformed the people’s platform in to their bully pulpit and said with unforgivable arrogance that they have “no apologies” for letting them down and taking care of their own interests first.
They failed ignominiously to establish some merit for the raise; failed to even attempt to make a case for living expenses; failed to show that the money that they are demanding is commensurate with services rendered.They failed because they resorted to that mix of arrogance and ignorance which characterizes uncivilized leadership.
And, their argument is fundamentally flawed and tenuous, at best. Their submission is that they are better quality officers and by extension their work to represent the nation will be better – even if they do say so themselves. There were disparate, embarrassingly illogical, comparisons to lawyers’ and what they earn and the use of this bench mark to assert the necessity for increase in the salaries of government Ministers.
Indeed, this disjointed assortment of random reasoning doesn’t even sound like it belongs on paper.
The nature of the two industries -professional legal practice and public service at the ministerial level – are divergent, with private practice lawyers being in the business of making a profit and government ministers being in the business of providing a public service for a fee that tax payers can afford.
The metaphorical use of the term tone deaf implies an incapability of understanding. In the arena of politics, that infirmity is not a birth defect but rather a posture of defiance to combat what is intuitively unpopular.
What would have been intuitively unpopular was the government changing the fifteen percent raise promise to workers making fifty thousand monthly, to a mere five percent overall raise and a trifling five thousand extra dollars, monthly. What would have been intuitively unpopular was offering pensioners an increase from thirteen thousand one hundred and seventy five dollars, to seventeen thousand dollars, then taking away their water and electricity subsidies, negating the impact of the increase. What would have been intuitively unpopular would have been voting a fifty percent pay hike for politicians who served a mere six months and are yet to demonstrate that they deserving of any raise, at all.
Taking it and declaring it to be deserving and due is social disrespect. Suggesting that higher pay would reduce the temptation of Ministers to steal is positing that they are thieves in waiting. Declaring that only a fifty percent raise is acceptable is forewarning that Ministers could be expected to steal if their salaries never increase past fifty percent.
Now, the electorate is left with memories of promises to remove value added tax, a seismic shift from a fifteen percent increase to five, the receiving of pension increase only to pay it out to removed utility subsidies… then they reflect on the five percent raise they received under the previous regime and remember how they saw that as insulting, not even living wage; and longed for this change, voted for this difference; and are thinking that in a few short years the cycle will have to repeat itself….