Not enough!

Manchester Central Member of Parliament (MP) Rhoda Moy Crawford is calling for an increase in MPs’ monthly allowance for the operation of constituency offices or for the Parliament to cover the expenses.

She said that due to an insufficient allowance, new MPs have had to resort to executing their duties “through the kind contributions of the business community and from our salaries”.

“The issue ought to be addressed, and now is an opportune time as the Government moves to improve wages and working conditions of public sector workers,” Crawford said as she made her contribution to the state of the constituency debate in Parliament on Tuesday.

Crawford beseeched Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke to consider making the provisions available, and if done through the House that payments be made directly through the finance unit of the Parliament.

The first-time MP said the public consistently calls for better representation from its MPs “and we are committed to providing the representation”. However, she argued that one of the best ways to ensure their success and hold them more accountable is to equip them with the needed tools to execute their functions.

“One such important and needed tool is a proper, functioning, constituency office. The existing allowance afforded to each of the 63 MPs is not sufficient to enable us to pay office rent, all utilities (light, water, Internet, phone bill), purchase office furniture, purchase technological devices (computers and printers), purchase stationery, purchase office cellular phones so that our constituents can reach us beyond office hours, pay a cleaner/attendant and a bearer, among other expenses,” she lamented.

At the same time, Crawford suggested that consideration be given to the Government’s lease or purchase of at least three or four of the wells located at Windalco’s Williamsfield plant in the Manchester Central constituency so as to increase water supply to residents.

She requested that the minister with responsibility for water, the executive management team of the National Water Commission (NWC), and the managers of UC Rusal/Windalco jointly consider the feasibility of such an arrangement.

“The existing wells have the capacity to store and produce approximately three to four million gallons of water daily. This far exceeds the existing 1.3 [million] to 1.5 million gallons currently being made available to the entire constituency on a daily basis through the NWC,” she said.

Crawford noted that with the access to some of Windalco’s wells — which are minimally used by Windalco — many of the communities within the constituency that are not serviced by the NWC could, for the first-time, gain access to potable water.

“This access could also [see] a more consistent flow of water into homes of existing customers, thereby tackling the issue of frequent water lock-offs,” she reasoned.

Further, the Manchester Central MP recommended that the National Works Agency and the NWC enter into a memorandum of understanding to ensure that the two entities execute their duties collaboratively.

“We have, far too often, borne witness to the dismantling of freshly asphalted roads to facilitate the installation or repairs of pipelines. My heart broke a few months ago when I received pictures and phone calls from an angry and frustrated constituent who saw a work team from the NWC digging into a section of….deCarteret Road less than two hours after my ‘Rhoda Fix’ team had concluded road repairs. This practice must not continue. Too much of taxpayers’ monies are being wasted,” she said.

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