Changing the Prime Minister’s Pension Act
Published: Oct 12, 2013
Hubert Ingraham is the only former prime minister alive in The Bahamas at this time. He was prime minister for 15 years. Ingraham therefore is the only one who qualifies for the prime minister’s pension. And it is a generous full-salary pension with lots of other perks.
A qualification for the full pension is to have served as prime minister for at least eight years. If Perry Christie retired today he would not qualify for the full pension despite having been elected twice as prime minister – and in this term guiding us through tough times. This shouldn’t be.
Anyone who holds the office of prime minister should qualify for the pension. This is the highest functional office in the land. Prime ministers are called upon to lead an entire country. When they leave office they deserve the privilege of the full pension regardless of whether they served seven or nine years.
The time requirement creates the problem of lingering. If an elected leader feels he has done his best after seven years he’d be a fool to leave then. Why not just stick around another year and get the full pension?
While this might be in that PM’s best interest, it would not be in the country’s best interest. Another interested and potentially more capable individual could be waiting. A leader who wants the job, as opposed to one who is just passing time, would better serve the country.
We have many pressing issues facing us at this time in our history. Elected officials should feel free to leave when they have given their all. This could come after a year; it could come after 15 years and multiple elections. The worst thing for a country is an empty and tired individual leading it while uninterested in the task at hand. We are not saying Christie is tired and spent, but the danger is there for such a scenario to occur with a prime minister of The Bahamas if the law is not changed.
Christie’s caucus should bring forward an amendment removing the time requirement from the prime minister’s pension law. Consequently if the current PM decides at some point soon that he has had enough, money won’t be a consideration for him. A prime minister would not want to bring forward a law specifically benefitting him, so Christie might need his caucus to act on his behalf and on the behalf of the country.
Our parliamentary process and how we treat our elected officials needs reform. If we want the best and brightest to lead us we have to ensure that the conditions under which they serve are attractive.