Sunday, February 25, 2018

‘Govt willing to undermine constitution to get its way’

The Parliament in its entirety, both the ruling party and the opposition has recently collaborated in an exercise that is both an attack on the fundamental principle of separation of powers and is a horrid public relations debacle. For a Parliament to be involved in setting compensation for the Judiciary is a misstep that can have far and disastrous consequences for this nation. To the average citizen who has to be satisfied with a pension of $3,000, hearing that persons have been struggling to make ends meet and have difficulty meeting their needs on pensions so much greater than theirs, this whole exercise just serves to confirm the long held belief that people are in Government just to serve themselves.

The Salaries Review Commission (SRC) was set up to address the issue of compensation for the leaders of the country. The underlying principle was to ensure that the separation of powers was maintained. It is improper for a Parliament to circumvent the SRC by exploiting a loophole in the law and thereby award themselves such large increases no matter how many justifications they may present. It is shocking to me that the sitting Opposition did not see anything wrong with this bill. Can you envision a scenario in the future where sitting judicial officers could look to a Parliament to increase their compensation packages instead of the Salaries Review Commission (SRC)? But that is a scenario that is entirely possible with the enactment of this piece of legislation.

As I mentioned before in a previous letter, perception is reality to the perceiver and the public perception in this matter could be that a sitting Government has found a way to circumvent one of the underlying principles of our Constitution for their own benefit. Is the risk of this possibility worth it to the ruling Government? Ordinary citizens of this country upon retirement have to buy food, pay utility bills, and meet medical costs in just the same way as the people being so handsomely compensated by this bill and with considerably much less! We are being told these outstanding citizens who have chosen to serve their nation deserve to be taken care of and I fully agree but I believe the way to achieve this is through the SRC only, the use of any other mechanism only serves to strengthen the perception that Government is self-serving and is willing to undermine the constitution to get its way. As much as I would like to see the brightest and the best amongst us rise up to become leaders, I would not like for this to be achieved at the cost of principles, the ensuing cost to our nation goes far beyond dollars and cents. The cost will be the very soul of a nation.  

Gary S Almarales