Maxie Cuffie’s bold statement that “I am not focusing on work right now… I am taking things one day at a time” is a literal slap in the face to taxpayers who have been, and continues to pay his full remuneration package as MP and Cabinet Minister whilst he has not been working for the past 11 months, and counting…
In the July 31 issue of the Newsday captioned “Cuffie takes in debate at home,” La Horquetta/Talparo MP and Minister in the Ministry of Public Administration Maxie Cuffie is quoted as saying, “I am not focusing on work right now. I am taking things one day at a time. My focus right now is my health and getting back to full strength.”
But for Cuffie to pontificate “I am not focusing on work right now… I am taking things one day at a time” is a literal slap in the face to taxpayers who have been, and continue to pay his full remuneration package as a MP and Cabinet Minister whilst he has not been working for the past 11 months.
One would have expected him to be anxious to return to work to serve his constituents who have languished without representation in Parliament. His statement shows a callous disregard for their welfare and must be of concern especially since they and taxpayers continue to foot his medical bills.
While not working, Cuffie has received in the vicinity of $500.000 in salary and perks and his MP’s Constituency Office would have received in excess of $500.000 to provide services and support to an absent and non-functioning MP.
Cuffie, through his Ministry, also accessed an annual budgeted amount of $15.000 for medical expenses and the UNIMED plan of $1 Million for public servants.
In addition, the Keith Rowley-led PNM Administration took the decision to pay $2.5 Million in medical expenses for Cuffie’s undisclosed medical treatment at an unnamed medical institution in Washington DC.
Whilst the country’s hospitals are literally crumbling and do not have many of even the very basic medical necessities for ordinary citizens and while citizens cannot get medications, the Gov’t nonetheless decides to pay for “physical rehabilitation” for one of its own MPs who was not, according to the many (mis)pronouncements in the media, on life-support.
Further, physical rehabilitation is available in both General Hospitals and Mount Hope as well as Private Health Institutions. There are well-trained Physical Therapy Doctors and Nurses who are quite capable to provide “physical rehabilitation” to a stroke victim.
While Cuffie has the utmost luxury of “not focusing on work right now,” there are thousands of citizens who cannot even afford to take a week off work and be paid; there are those who have to sell their homes to pay for specialist medical treatment; but a PNM MP and Minister can afford to “not focus on work right now” because he is being paid his full salary and benefits whilst he remains at home instead of doing the job he was elected – and selected – to do.
Cuffie’s bold pronouncement demonstrates utter contempt for the over 26.000 Constituents of Horquetta/Talparo who elected him to serve them as their MP.
It also demonstrates utter contempt for taxpayers who have been forced not only to unjustifiably pay for Cuffie’s protracted medical recuperation, but now to foot the bill while he lounges at home.
In no other democracy would any MP or Minister be allowed such consideration if they are off work.
I genuinely wish Maxie Cuffie all the best in his recovery, but nowhere does it say that the country has to pay for it. Surely the taxpayers have gone above and beyond what is required of them already and if it is that Cuffie cannot work, then he should step down and let someone else who IS capable step up and earn that salary instead of just pocketing it.