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JLP councillors in St Ann take pay cut

BY ALESIA EDWARDS, Observer staff reporter alesiae@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, April 25, 2009    

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OCHO RIOS, St Ann - Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors in St Ann have joined their colleagues in Trelawny and St Catherine to give up five per cent of their salary.

Leader of JLP business in the St Ann Parish Council, Sydney Stewart, said his JLP colleagues have decided to give up five per cent of their salary in an effort to assist and improve the lives of the less fortunate in the parish.

"Although we, (councillors) spend a lot of our personal money to assist the less fortunate and to help in our different divisions, we feel that this five per cent, although small, will go a far way to assist people who are suffering and who need help," Stewart said.

He said the money will go into the consolidated fund and will be channelled through the Poor Relief Department, specifically to provide economic support to St Ann's poor.

"We are also looking at poultry rearing and other types of small businesses where people can get some additional economic support. We have suggested a special programme to the council and we are hoping it will be approved, so people can help," Stewart said.

In a national broadcast last month, Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced that in addition to giving up his seven per cent wage increase due April 1, he would be taking a 15 per cent cut in his salary and asked ministers and other members of parliament to give up 10 per cent of their salary.

Days after the announcement, government ministers and JLP members of Parliament heeded Golding's call, while JLP councillors in St Catherine and Trelawny said they were willing to give up five per cent of their salary.

But the pay cut has been a hard sell to PNP MPs and councillors.

Tuesday, Stewart said he was hoping that the PNP councillors in St Ann would also consider taking the five per cent cut. He said the gesture should not be seen as a political one, but instead an opportunity to further enhance the lives of the indigent.

"This is no political thing, people all around are suffering because the world is facing an economic crisis and people living in a small country like Jamaica will face hardships, like some have been facing for many years," explained Stewart, adding that politicians who have a genuine love for people should follow suit.

However, PNP councillor and chairman of the council, Ivan Anderson, said his colleagues cannot afford to give up any more of their salary. He said they were already giving up seven per cent, pointing to the government's decision to freeze public sector workers' pay.

"We are more under pressure now in our divisions and you find that it is costing us more to really help the people in our divisions, so it's kind of hard to give up something when we are using up more," Anderson explained.

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