Archdeacon James Palacious yesterday urged parliamentarians to consider how their decisions impact the average Bahamian as they carry out their duties.
In the course of a spirited sermon during the annual parliamentary church service held at St. Agnes Anglican Church, Palacious said Bahamians must be able to see the benefits from government policy.
“We all speak from a position of where we are,” he said.
“There’s a saying which says, ‘People don’t see things the way they are. They see things the way they, themselves, are.’
“If it’s one message I wish you to carry away is that you can pass whatever legislation in Parliament, but if it ain’t touching me out there, then you can forget it.
“If it’s not going to mean something to me personally, then you can forget it.”
Many MPs cheered Palacious on.
He also touched on the issue of public disclosures.
“Of course, as we pass legislation, we expect parliamentarians to obey the legislation,” Palacious said.
“If you want to invoke the provisions of the Westminster system, let’s invoke it straight across the board.
“We need compliance from the members of Parliament. It’s as simple as that.
“See, this kind of slackness really undermines the confidence in good governance.”
He also spoke about the recent increase in travel benefits for Cabinet ministers and their spouses.
“I, personally, don’t have a problem with ministers taking their spouses twice a year, but, of course, in this atmosphere, the people have a right to be a little upset about that,” Palacious said.
“Now, you might just be disclosing something that has been happening for years, but all I’m saying is that we need to be able to say that.”
According to the travel policy, ministers’ spouses will be afforded additional trips and a $100 per diem.
Ministers receive a 25 percent and 67 percent per diem increase for domestic and international travel respectively; and ministers are to be afforded membership to the American Airlines (AA) Admiral’s Club, which enables access to its premium passenger lounges in airports around the world.
The ministerial per diem for domestic travel was increased from $80 to $100 and from $150 to $250 for international travel.
Palacious added that the $250 per diem isn’t excessive.
“But again, we have to accept that for some people, they don’t make $250 a week,” Palacious said.
“So, for you to be talking about $250 a day, they can’t comprehend that.
“That does not make any sense to them, and they have a right to be upset whether you like it or not because as far as they’re concerned, you’re being overpaid.”