Why do we still have a governor general?

Jamaica’s Governor General: Why Do We Still Have One?

In recent weeks, Jamaicans learned just how much they’ll be dishing out as a nation for our expenses.

The Government presented a budget of $710 billion for the fiscal year 2017-2018. Of this $710 billion, it is expected that $225 billion will go to capital spending while the remaining $485 billion will be for housekeeping affairs such as debt repayment.

  These figures appear quite conventional until one sees the money allocated to the Governor General (GG). What’s shocking is that the country is expected to foot a $236 million bill for the GG as it was reported that he is in need of a new vehicle as well as elevator repairs. Jamaicans were informed that the elevator repairs would cost approximately $40 million.

This poses the question: why is $40 million necessary to fix an elevator? Shall we talk about the demand for a new car? Permit me to ask where our dear GG is going, what is he doing, and how often does he go out? Why should the nation be forced to buy a new luxury vehicle?

The reality is that the average Jamaican only sees Sir Patrick Allen an average of 6 times per year. He is seen on our televisions at the Opening of Parliament where he delivers the throne speech, Heroes Day, Emancipation and Independence Day and at Christmas and New Year.

So what exactly does the GG do for the other 359 days of the year, I mean surely the nation deserves to know. A key part of his job description is community outreach — when last have you seen or heard that the GG is out?

Various administrations seem reluctant to remove the Queen as Jamaica’s head of State, thus begging the question, who is truly benefiting from this?

But this is just a random question, why isn’t the Queen paying all these expenses? After all, the GG and his office are all doing her work. So, why isn’t the Queen directly paying them?

Just stop and think for a minute, how much we could do with $236 million dollars as a nation.

Here are some suggestions: Pump more money into the crime plan. Fix the vents at Cornwall Regional Hospital. Invest some more money into education. Invest in low-income housing for this fiscal year – since no money was allocated for this.

Here is the real sad note that I’ll end on; even when the GG retires we will still be paying him millions per year. Kings House has said “upon retirement, the governor-general is entitled to a pension equal to his salary as well as, either accommodation in a government-owned house or housing allowance”.

The nation will also foot the bill for the GG’s secretarial, household helper and gardener allowances. Clearly keeping the governor general is not in the best interest of Jamaica. Now is the time we should follow our neighbours in Trinidad and like them, do away with this costly office.

*Published in the Jamaica Observer on March 2,2017

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