FijiFirst to take action against MPs who voted for salary and benefit increase

FijiFirst to take action against MPs who voted for salary and benefit increase

By Vijay Narayan , Rashika Kumar
Sunday 26/05/2024
FijiFirst office with 16 MPs

FijiFirst Party President Ratu Joji Satakala says the party will be taking action against 16 MPs, including Leader of the Opposition Inia Seruiratu, who went against the party directive and voted for salary and benefit increases for the President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Deputy Speaker, Whips, Speaker, Leader of Opposition and Members of Parliament.

He says these members were Mosese Bulitavu, Sanjay Kirpal, Semi Koroilavesau, Shalen Kumar, Virendra Lal, loane Naivalurua, Sachida Nand, Vijay Nath, Viliame Naupoto, Ratu Josaia Niudamu, Penioni Ravunawa, Taito Rokomatu, Inia Seruiratu, Alipate Tuicolo, Naisa Tuinaceva and Jone Usamate.

Ratu Joji, in a post on the party's Facebook page says all FijiFirst supporters and Fijian citizens are informed that all FijiFirst Members of Parliament were directed specifically by the Acting General Secretary, Faiyaz Koya in a caucus meeting on Friday morning and in writing after lunch on the same day to vote against or abstain from voting on the salary and benefit increase.

He says the Central Executive Committee of FijiFirst will now take steps as provided for in the FijiFirst Constitution to address this issue.

According to the Parliamentary Employments Committee report tabled in parliament, FijiFirst had proposed an increase in salary of the Leader of Opposition from $120,000 to $200,000, salary of a Member of Parliament to be increased from $50,000 to $100,000, all Ministers to get $200,000, Assistant Ministers’ pay to be increased from $90,000 to $120,000 and Speaker’s salary to be increased from $150,000 to $200,000. FijiFirst also wanted the President’s non taxable salary to be maintained at $130,000 and the Prime Minister’s salary to be maintained at $328,750.

The proposal is quite similar to the final recommendations presented in the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee report which proposes increases in salaries for the President, Speaker of Parliament, Government Ministers and Members of Parliament. The FijiFirst proposal says comparing Parliamentary Salary and Civil Servants shows a grim picture.

It says to put simply, MPs are paid the equivalent of an Army Captain over 2 years, a Superintendent of Police, a Head Teacher of a big Primary school, or a Principal of a small Secondary school.

The FijiFirst says MPs salary are not even close to Magistrates starting salary.

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The opposition party says this is not to say that these posts do not deserve these salaries but when they make the comparison with MPs salaries and peg it against the critical components, the salary for MPs are quite ludicrous to say the least.

They say the irony is that candidates who did not make it to Parliament are given jobs that pay more than all of them in Parliament.

The FijiFirst also proposed that a Health and Medical Allowance must be provided at an appropriate level at to all Members of Parliament.

They also say Members of Parliament must be accorded the full status of their position.

As such when they propose that when MPs do travel, they must be accorded Business Class travel and be afforded Diplomatic Privileges.

The FijiFirst says this is in keeping with both the importance of the work they undertake as lawmakers, and their being the physical embodiment of the democratic choice of Fiji citizens.

The recommended that all Parliamentarians below the Prime Minister are to travel Business Class and be issued Diplomatic Passports.

They also proposed that all MPs be paid a Sitting Allowance of $500 per day irrespective of where they live.

The FijiFirst says this allowance will cover travel to and from Parliament, board and subsistence.

They also recommend sitting allowances for all MPs to be increased inclusive of accommodation allowance and the removal of the restrictions on the 30 kilometres distance from Suva.

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