Questions raised on why Govt has not followed proper legal processes for salary increases
No cabinet discussion, no Bill tabled and no public consultation

Questions raised on why Govt has not followed proper legal processes for salary increases

No cabinet discussion, no Bill tabled and no public consultation

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 27/05/2024
Photo: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji

The legal processes to be followed are still pending after parliament voted for the motion moved by the Minister for Women, Children and Social Protection, Lynda Tabuya to increase the salaries and benefits of the President, Speaker, Ministers, Leader of the Opposition and Members of Parliament.

The Parliamentary Remunerations Act including the schedule for salaries and allowances have not been amended through a Bill that needs to be tabled in parliament.

Questions are also being raised on why the Parliamentary Remunerations Act is not being followed when it comes to sections on submissions to be made by concerned citizens and countervailing economic conditions as the coalition government had said that our economic situation is still in recovery mode with high debt levels and that was also the reason for people to pay increased taxes like VAT.

Section 10 of the Act states that where Parliament is considering making a determination in relation to the remuneration of any person or group of persons, representatives of the members of each category of those persons are entitled to make written or oral submissions to Parliament, at a time and place and in a manner to be determined by Par1iament, and any other person or organisation is entitled to make written submissions to Parliament in relation to the making of the determination.

Section 7 also states that when setting the remuneration to be prescribed in a determination, Parliament must take into account any prevailing economic conditions, based on evidence from an authoritative source; and may set the remuneration at a rate lower than it would otherwise have set.

Many people have also raised the question why the matter was not referred to cabinet for full discussions before it came back into parliament with a Bill after full public consultations.

Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says the Act has to be changed through the tabling of the Bill and you cannot make any changes without amending the Act.

He says the Lynda Tabuya motion is not sufficient authority to amend the salaries as a law change is needed.

Chaudhry says public consultations is needed, and the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee only got submissions from an independent consultant and only the parties in parliament.

Under section 83 (4) of the 1997 Constitution, there was a specific provision excluding Members of Parliament from being appointed to the Parliament Emoluments Commission.

Chaudhry stresses it is unfair to the taxpayers of the country for the Members of Parliament to decide on their own salary.

Many people are also saying that the coalition government can definitely take it’s time to have public consultations and then make an informed decision just like it is doing consultations on whether the $4 national minimum wage rate should be increased.

We have sent questions to Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, Attorney General, Siromi Turaga and Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad. They are yet to respond.

Click here for more stories on the Ministers and MPs Salary Increase Issue

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