Leader of the Opposition Bishop Joseph Atherley has knocked a stipend to parliamentarians to assist constituents as a “joke” and has called for a greater amount to be allocated for the grants given the current economic climate.
Atherley made the comments in the House of Assembly as MPs paid tribute to their late former colleague, Joseph Edghill, who represented Christ Church West Central during the Owen Arthur administration from 1994 to 2008.
He said: “The monthly parliamentary allocation we get to help us represent our constituents is a joke! It is gone before it comes, and especially in these times, coming off more than a decade of bad economic performance, on the heels of COVID, and with a virtual shut down of the tourism industry; it is tough out there!”
He did not declare the amount of the monthly allowance.
During his tribute, the St Michael West MP praised Edghill’s willingness to “pull his pockets” to help constituents during emergency situations.
“While many of us are willing to do the same, the reality is that the system does not provide us with the help we need,” he told the House. “To give to our constituents we have to fall back on our resources and then we hear mouths across this land talking about the money politicians are given. That is foolishness and because we use it as a tool to divide us one from another, this situation will be perpetuated continually.
“I suppose there are some constituencies with wealthy people, like in St. James, but in my constituency, and the one in which I live, when people come knocking at your door in the early hours of the morning looking for some financial assistance, we cannot exactly tell them, ‘Go away, I ain’t got nothing!’
“Sometimes we do not always have enough to give, and not many of us have friends in high places that we can call upon and ask them to come through for us. Genuine representatives are willing to spend their own funds to help their constituents, that is an indicator of their sincerity, but what is currently provided is insufficient and we should reconsider it.” (DH)