Categorized | National News

Fitzgerald Defends Smith’s Salary Request

Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald said the fact that College of The Bahamas (COB) President Dr. Rodney Smith is reportedly asking for a $400,000 per year salary is not exorbitant, considering the fact that previous presidents’ salaries were in the same ball park, financially.

While leading off debate on a resolution for the government to borrow $16 million to assist the college with its transition to university status, Minister Fitzgerald said the matter is not as scandalous as it’s being played out in the media, noting that several college presidents have received the same hefty salary.

In fact he said he authorised the College Council to negotiate “reasonable contract terms” consistent with terms previously agreed with former presidents taking into account changes in the cost of living.

“I am pleased to report that the Council adhered to those conditions and Dr. Smith’s salary are exactly the same as the previous president and his benefits are exactly the same, save that he requested a housing allowance instead of using the house that COB has rented for presidents for the past 10 years and the Council agreed to that,” he said.

Dr. Smith served as COB president between 2004 and 2005 but was forced to resign amid a plagiarism scandal.

Despite mass public backlash Dr. Smith was re-appointed COB president and reportedly officially took up office yesterday.

As for the resolution to borrow $16 million, Minister Fitzgerald said no great city or country exists in the world without a distinguished centre of higher learning and The Bahamas should strive to be no different.

“The establishment of the University of The Bahamas will be a defining moment in the annals of history,” he added. “This resolution to borrow $16 million from the Caribbean Development Bank is an important piece of the puzzle.

“The total amount of this funding is actually $23,200,000 with the government providing $20 million or 30 per cent of the total funding.”

State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis seconded the bill and noted that the monies would be used for various structural upgrades at the college

However, Free National Movement (FNM) Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama Peter Turnquest said the government’s record on borrowing is already being scrutinised and advised that they could not continue digging a bigger financial hole.

Mr. Turnquest said since coming to office the government has borrowed too much money and have placed too much trust in international agencies to bail the country out.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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