Home Letters Compensation for policy-makers, leaders & directors
Ongoing media coverage regarding all forms of compensation (salaries, benefits, stipends, perks, etc.) payable to the top echelons of Government and national, public and civic service organizations suggests that it might be useful to have some public ventilation on the underlying bases and justifications for the apparent dissonances, discrepancies and differentials within the body politic. (It is acknowledged that similar issues are au courant in other spheres within and outside our nation with established avenues and procedures for dealing with them).
The most recent high-profile public service cases in point are the amounts being paid to Parliamentarians and Ministers which may be considered as ‘super salaries’ when compared with the paltry, beggarly, sums being paid as ‘stipends’ to Chairmen and Directors of the Boards of governmental Agencies and Authorities. (My understanding is that the stipends paid to Chairmen are ,000 and Directors ,000 per month; they were apparently fixed in the last century, and are clearly well below the current national minimum wage and to me quite an insult to the personal pride of the recipients which no amount of altruism and considerations of service to the motherland can assuage).
How can we countenance and knowingly live with the glaring differentials between the earnings of politicians and the stipends of professionals who are usually appointed to serve on critical Boards where the responsibilities and efforts required are at least apparently equal to, if not superior in some cases. The efforts and responsibilities of Chairmen and Directors of Boards like the GRA and GuySuCo who actually provide leadership and professional oversight for operations within the commanding heights of the economy are virtual ‘full time’ jobs. Besides, as far as I gather, they have ‘fiduciary responsibility’ and can be sued if found to be delinquent in the performance of their duties as Directors.
Contrary to generally held impressions, some, if not most of these Chairmen and Directors do not simply attend monthly meetings (on which impression the current stipends were apparently fixed); typically, they have a lot of ‘home work’ to do to prepare for the meetings and sub-committee work based on their particular areas of expertise; then there are the continual ‘oversight’ and ‘representational’ obligations which they are expected to discharge. While Parliamentarians enjoy extensive ‘parliamentary breaks’ for example, Chairmen and Directors of State Boards must be on-the-ball continually, especially in some productive and service-oriented operations like GuySuCo and GRA. I know of a case where one Board Chairman was so engrossed in the affairs of the organization that he was considered and often referred to as the “Executive Chairman”. Does the Government expect or unwittingly encourage these professionals and upright citizens who are normally requested to serve on the Boards to fall prey to or to seek illicit, under-the-table or round-about means of self-compensation and aggrandizement?
There is also the case where a Director on the Board of one of these operations was so appalled at the miserly stipend payable to him that he quickly sought an opportunity to serve the same outfit, in virtually the same capacity, but as a functional head of the said organization for which he is being paid a handsome salary, plus related benefits. Such unsavoury moves become unnecessary if proper systems were in place for determining the relative demands, difficulties and other differentials inherent in the different roles within the various organizations.
There are several simple Job Evaluation systems and techniques readily available to establish defensible, systemic and objective bases for fair and equitable compensation arrangements based on relativities and comparability following orderly processes of Job Analyses, Job Evaluation and other Human Resource Management applications.
Government should seriously consider employing such approaches for a start if it really wants to attract and retain the people with the appropriate competencies and profiles, whether as Board Members or Staff, for all its operations and agencies, and who would not be tempted to do any form of wangling to meet obviously critical demands of the respective positions.