A very interesting letter in the Stabroek News of Jan 31, 2014 under the caption ‘Members of parliament should give up their salaries for six months and live on $35,000 a month’ endorsed by 12 persons caught my attention. I tell you, it is a letter to make the people it targeted uncomfortable – a topic they wish to never hear again.
The letter, just like the caption called for parliamentarians (those who were in agreement that the minimum wage was adequate) to forgo their salaries, duty-free concessions and transportation allowances for six months and live on minimum wage of $35,000 per month like the ordinary working man – please keep in mind that many workers receive much less. Further, they must not obtain money from any other source as that would be cheating; must not take any loans; incur any debt or accept any gifts in lieu of money. MPs earning money from other sources must not use it to live on during this period.
And at the end of the six months they must publish their expenditure, showing how they have managed to pay for books, food, housing, school fees, electricity, water, gas, transportation, etc. Boy! This is definitely asking them to perform a miracle, turning stone into bread. Failing to cope, they have been asked to fulfil something. The challenge is a good one and the request decent and very humane which any genuine MP true to the cause of the poor, the everyday working man, should grasp at to really get a living feeling.
But the signatories to this letter are really reaching for the stars; the call for our national patrimony to be distributed in a more equitable manner is in order and a noble proposition, though I think it is highly improbable. It would be like trying to stop the waves from reaching the shore. Which day? How? When and in which country? Naaw, reality check. Reminds me of one of Aesop’s fables: At an animals’ meeting the hares called for equality, for all to have a fair share, to which the lions replied, “Good speech hairy feet, but it lacks claws and teeth as we have.”
Mandela was ashamed of the remuneration he was receiving though some thought he was crazy. The example of Eusi Kwayana is not such a fond one for many, but let us strain our imagination somewhat to see our MPs accepting the challenge, then we could put the salaries and allowances, etc, collected from this 65-member parliament over the six months period into a fund – and what fund that would be – and use the money towards some project for the benefit of the less fortunate. OK, I agree; I’m on cloud nine.