Motion for Salary Changes for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs Passed

Motion for Salary Changes for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs Passed

By fijivillage
Friday 07/06/2024
[Image: Parliament of Fiji]

The motion to change the salaries and allowances of a number of executive offices including those of Members of Parliament has been passed by parliament.


Rabuka apologizes and says he will address the nation in the near future

PM hints he will talk on best way forward in addressing issues raised
By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 04/06/2024
Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka

Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka has today apologized deeply to the people of Fiji, that the Coalition Government fell short over the past week.

In a post on his official page, Rabuka says he acknowledges that the past week has been a test of their collective resolve as a Coalition, stemming from the determination of Parliamentary Emoluments on 24th May 2024.

Rabuka says he humbly admits that this matter could have been better handled, with more wisdom as is expected of elected representatives.

He says he would like to assure the nation that they are listening to you and working together to address concerns raised.

Rabuka says he will be addressing the nation sometime in the near future on the best way forward in addressing issues raised.

He adds after having a discussion this morning with the Coalition Partner Leaders, they agree that they take full responsibility and reinforce their pledge to upholding the Coalition Agreement of December 2022.

Rabuka says as a grandfather and father, he knows that in every family, misunderstandings and differences of opinion can arise, but at the end of the day, family remains family.

The Prime Minister says the Coalition Government is no different, and all they need to do better is to find and make time to have better dialogue and the space for understanding and compromises.

He says the people of Fiji expect no less.



Minister for Finance has to find money on how increased salaries can be paid – PM

I feel for the people’s hardships, we were still on 20% pay cut - PM
By Vijay Narayan, Marika Rasekaseka
Tuesday 04/06/2024
Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka

Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka says he feels for the people’s hardships based on the concerns raised regarding the Members of Parliament voting for the change in salaries and benefits however he confirms he cannot encourage the coalition to change the decision.

When questioned by fijivillage News on whether Rabuka will encourage an amendment that does not allow the increased salaries and benefits as he was earlier given wrong legal advice and the changes in salaries and benefits had to be gazetted last week, Rabuka confirms this will not be done.

Rabuka says now the Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad has to find the money, and people also need to understand that the MPs still have a 20 percent pay cut.

When asked on his stance as the Prime Minister and leader of the coalition knowing many people are calling for the increased salaries not to be implemented, he says he feels for the people, and those who get pay increases will have more demands as well.

Based on the gazette, the President’s salary should increase from $130,000 to $185,000, the Prime Minister’s salary is to be reduced from $328,750 to $320,000, and the Speaker’s salary be increased from $150,000 to $220,000. As an interim measure, the government had proposed and approved through parliament within the current budget year to reduce the Prime Minister’s salary from $328,750 to $263,000, the Minister for Finance’s salary was reduced from $235,000 to $188,000, Ministers’ salaries were reduced from between $200,000 and $185,000 to $160,000 and $148,000, Assistant Ministers’ salaries from $90,000 to $72,000 and the Leader of Opposition’s salaries from $120,000 to $96,000.

Based on that, the Prime Minister’s salary will increase from the current $263,000 to $320,000.

All Ministers are to get a $200,000 salary which sees a decrease in salary for the Minister for Finance and increase for other Ministers who are on $160,000, an increase in Assistant Ministers’ pay from $90,000 to $120,000, an increase in the Leader of Opposition’s pay from $120,000 to $200,000, and an increase in the pay of Members of Parliament from $50,000 to $95,000.

The Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition will also be entitled to free furnished official residences.

Based on the gazette, all Members of Parliament can buy a tax and duty free vehicle per term of parliament, $100,000 life insurance premiums which the MPs can continue at own cost after parliament dissolves and the MPs parliamentary duty allowances have been increased from $10,000 to $15,000 a year for each MP.

There are also changes to the travel allowances.

PARLIAMENTARY REMUNERATIONS ACT 2014



FijiFirst Party President being used just like Bainimarama – Bulitavu

Sayed-Khaiyum and Koya remain tightlipped
By Vijay Narayan
Monday 03/06/2024
Former party General Secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, FijiFirst Party MP, Mosese Bulitavu and Acting General Secretary, Faiyaz Koya

FijiFirst Party MP, Mosese Bulitavu is alleging that former party General Secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is using the Party President, Ratu Joji Satakala to issue a statement under Satakala’s name.

Following Satakala’s statement issued on the FijiFirst facebook page that the 17 FijiFirst MPs’ seats have been vacated for not following the party’s directive on the pay rise vote, Bulitavu says Fiji knows who wrote the statement for the poor Party President to rubber stamp.

He says he does not know whether the Party President understands the statement that has been put out under his name while the drafters hide behind him.

Bulitavu stresses that the FijiFirst Party President and those who wrote the statement for him need to understand the precedent set by the former Speaker, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on 13th August 2021.

He says the SODELPA Leader and General Secretary wrote to the Speaker to vacate his seat however the former Speaker wrote back to them that Bulitavu disputed the directive that was issued by the party.

Bulitavu says the Speaker then told SODELPA if they want to vacate his seat, they are free to go to the court.

Bulitavu adds that the FijiFirst Party does not have the power to vacate their Parliamentary seat as the Party President puts it in prepared statement 'they no longer hold seats as Parliamentarians.'

He adds that the Party President in the same statement contradicts himself saying 'while we have not heard from the Speaker as to when the 17 replacement members will be replaced..." which only proves that the power to vacate the Parliamentary seats vests in the ruling of the Speaker.

Bulitavu says to also correct the Party President, the Electoral Commission will only award the seats to the replacing candidates once they are notified by the Speaker.

He says the whole of Fiji and those abroad are fully aware of the situation that FijiFirst has been put on notice on it's Constitutional breaches.

Bulitavu says the 17 MPs say that the directive was unlawful, the FijiFirst Party Constitution does not have a dispute system and that the former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama is being used again despite his conviction that prevents him to hold any political party office to sign the letter of notification addressed to the Speaker.

He says in addition, the Supervisor of Elections/Registrar of Political Parties has said that Bainimarama’s name would be removed from the National Voter Register due to his conviction similar to Bulitavu’s vacation of seat in April 2018 when he was convicted by the court.

Bulitavu says the Speaker has the discretion to make a ruling and reply to both parties. He adds if the FijiFirst Party President comes around in Parliament this week, he will still see the 17 MPs at the Opposition Chambers busy engaged in their Parliamentary duties.

Bulitavu calls on Satakala to please stop being used by whoever wrote his statement because they are the very ones that put the former Prime Minister, Bainimarama into a lot of problems.

The FijiFirst MP says whoever wrote Satakala’s statement was even responsible for writing the former Prime Minister, Bainimarama's maiden speech last year that resulted in his suspension from Parliament.

We have sent numerous questions to former General Secretary of the FijiFirst, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Acting General Secretary, Faiyaz Koya. They have not been responding to any questions.



Pay increase is unfair - Turaga

By Karishma Kumari
Sunday 02/06/2024
Former civil servant and former military officer Josateki Labadai Turaga

As the Live and Lead by Faith church members distributed food parcels to the street dwellers in Suva today, former civil servant and former military officer Josateki Labadai Turaga says changes gazetted to the salaries, allowances, and benefits for the President, Speaker, Leader of Opposition and members of Cabinet and Parliament is unfair.

Turaga is the elder brother of Attorney General, Siromi Turaga.

While speaking to fijivillage News, Turaga says instead of increasing their pay, the Ministers should come to the grassroot level and understand the daily problems and struggles of ordinary Fijians.

He says he does not believe it is right to have a pay rise for the MPs as this is all political and we need to address the main issues faced by the people first.

Turaga says the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Turaga ni Koro and the other stakeholders must get together to discuss such issues and help the people who are struggling especially those on the streets.



Snap elections can take place if the govt cannot sort out the pay mess - Prof. Steven Ratuva

Public consultation should have come first
By Iliana Biutu
Sunday 02/06/2024
Pro Vice-Chancellor Pacific, Professor Steven Ratuva

Snap elections can take place if the Coalition Government cannot sort out it's mess.

This has been highlighted by the Pro Vice-Chancellor Pacific, Professor Steven Ratuva when he was asked by fijivillage News on what is his comments regarding the pay increase chaos for the President, Speaker of the Parliament, Leader of the Opposition, members of the cabinet and parliament.

Professor Ratuva says a snap election can be done to clean the political space and reset the process to make sure that they can have a new start.

He also says that public consultation should have come first so that the public can voice their ideas on such decisions.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor says Fiji is going through a very difficult socio-economic situation with workers crying out for more pay yet the parliamentarians are trying to increase their pay.

He further says a little bit of streamlining of the remuneration for parliamentarians needs to take place whereby an independent remuneration entity can do that. Professor Ratuva further says the government needs to be more transparent with some integrity because what has happened now is the result of a lack of consultation and lack of the process not being transparent enough in terms of having an independent entity to determine the salary.

He adds to some extent the People’s Alliance Party and the National Federation Party need to re-look at how they can manage the situation by looking inward and can ensure stability.



Teachers' unions to meet to consider national strike action - Manumanunitoga

By Iliana Biutu
Sunday 02/06/2024
FTA General Secretary, Paula Manumanunitoga

The Fijian Teachers Association and Fiji Teachers Union will have a meeting tomorrow to consider national strike action.

This has been highlighted by FTA General Secretary, Paula Manumanunitoga after being asked by fijivillage News about his comments regarding the changes gazetted to salaries, allowances and benefits for the President, Speaker, Leader of the Opposition, and members of cabinet and parliament.

Manumanunitoga says the association thinks it was misleading from the Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka to say that there will be proper public consultations and assessment on the ability to pay before any considered raise.


He says they have been making numerous submissions to the government through the Ministry of Education requesting the pay rise for all teachers, especially assistant teachers since last year when the Coalition Government was formed.

He further says the salaries of 80 percent of teachers in the country is below $30,000.


He says the whole country and the world know the reason why teachers are leaving because the pay is not enough.

The FTA General Secretary says they have been trying with the Ministry of Education to hold teachers back but they can’t do much about it.

He further says how stupid is the action by the government as despite all the issues being raised by various stakeholders, they still voted for a pay rise for a few including the President.



Narube asks PM what’s the point of consultation now

By Iliana Biutu
Saturday 01/06/2024

Unity Fiji Leader, Savenaca Narube says he is surprised by how the salaries, allowances and benefits for the President, Speaker, Leader of Opposition and Members of Cabinet and Parliament were gazetted and this means that no consultation whatsoever will change that now.

While speaking to fijivillage News, Narube says he was under the impression because of the statement put out by Parliamentary Emoluments Committee Chair, Lynda Tabuya that there will be sanctioned consultations but apparently this is not possible.

He says this adds to the growing confusion of the people regarding the processes right from the start.

The former governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji says we need transparency in this very important issue and we need to know what happened that now the Parliament has voted to pay themselves and now it is gazetted.

Narube asks what is the point of any consultation and the Government needs to answer and say that clearly to the people.



Fiji Teachers Union demand a 30% pay rise despite changes gazetted for salaries and benefits for MPs

By Iliana Biutu
Saturday 01/06/2024
Photo : File

The Fiji Teachers Union is demanding a 30 percent pay rise for all its teachers despite changes gazetted to salaries, allowances, and benefits for the President, Speaker, Leader of Opposition and members of Cabinet and Parliament.

FTU General Secretary, Muniappa Goundar says if the Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka confirms due processes for changes to salaries, allowances and benefits for the parliamentarians, it shows that the government has money to pay them.

Goundar says the Teachers Union's concern is its members be given a pay rise of 30 percent.

He says the Teachers Union stands by the fact that they need 30 percent and nothing else.



PM, Tabuya and AG should stop playing games – Chaudhry

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 31/05/2024
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, Minister Lynda Tabuya and Attorney General Siromi Turaga

Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry says Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Minister Lynda Tabuya and Attorney General Siromi Turaga should stop playing games with the people on the parliamentary pay issue.

He says the overnight gazetting of the pay increases has shocked the people.

Chaudhry says just the day before the Prime Minister had indicated that due process would be followed and a Bill on it would be published for public consultation before finalising the matter.

He says Labour is satisfied that the Tabuya motion calling for the approval of the increases recommended in the Emoluments Committee report was improperly introduced.

The FLP Leader says it was not on the Order Paper for the day but was sneaked into the proceedings just before Parliament adjourned on 24th May.

He says the Speaker should not have allowed it, more so, as he was to personally benefit substantially from its successful passage.

Chaudhry says as the acceptance of the Emoluments Committee report entails incurring additional expenditure, the matter should have been cleared with the Finance Minister, via the Cabinet, before being proposed in Parliament. He says the report itself is tainted because it originates from the very people who are to benefit from it handsomely, albeit unjustifiably considering the depressed economic conditions facing the nation and the people.

The former Prime Minister says FLP maintains that proper procedures were not followed and the increases were bulldozed in contemptuous disregard of the feelings of the people who are now doomed to pay for it.



Reverse unjustifiable salary increases - FCOSS

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 31/05/2024
FCOSS Executive Director Vani Catanasiga

The Fiji Council of Social Services reiterates to the elected leaders that despite the determination made last week and the subsequent gazetting of that resolution, their salary increases remain unjustifiable in light of the daily struggles of ordinary people and the vulnerable.

FCOSS Executive Director Vani Catanasiga says there are more urgent needs to address the pressing cost of living issues faced by parts of the civil service that deliver essential and social services such as police, nurses, teachers, and others whose salaries have been stagnant for far longer than politicians.

She says the salary increases approved remain unjustifiable as there is a lack of independence in the Emoluments Committee and the lack of a performance measure or review. Catanasiga says they are aware that there are parliamentary procedures that allow for the reversing of that decision so they strongly urge parliamentarians on both sides of the house to take heed of the voices of the citizens who have raised their concerns on many forums and condemned the hypocrisy of their decision, to use that and reverse the decision for the salary hikes.

She says alternatively, FCOSS and the people of Fiji plead with the parliamentarians to do everything that is legally permissible to reverse the decision made to increase their salary including not passing the proposed amendments to the Emoluments Act.



Speaker yet to confirm that 17 FijiFirst MPs seats are vacant

Usamate says they are disputing the legality of their termination
By Vijay Narayan
Friday 31/05/2024
Source : Parliament of the Republic of Fiji

Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu is yet to confirm that the 17 FijiFirst seats are vacant and the Electoral Commission is yet to award the seats to the next 17 FijiFirst candidates on the list from the 2022 general elections.

FijiFirst Acting General Secretary, Faiyaz Koya and the party’s Foundation Member, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum have not responded to our questions despite many attempts by us to get them to clarify issues to the people of Fiji on what the FijiFirst is doing.

The 17 FijiFirst Members of Parliament say they are disputing the legality of the termination letter issued to them yesterday.

The MPs include Inia Seruiratu, 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, Alipate Tuicolo, Naisa Tuinaceva, Jone Usamate and Alvick Maharaj.

16 MPs voted for the change in salaries and benefits in parliament on Friday while Maharaj did not vote although he was in parliament.

FijiFirst MP, Jone Usamate says as far as they are concerned, they are still Members of Parliament.

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He says they have received letters from Faiyaz Koya notifying them that their seat in parliament has been vacated.

Usamate says they will await the full process of the law to take its course.

The 16 FijiFirst Members of Parliament met with Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, seeking clarification on the processes of Parliament on Wednesday.

Usamate says this followed the statement posted on the FijiFirst Party Facebook page that the party will take action against the FijiFirst Members of Parliament who have been alleged to have voted against the party directive.

Usamate says the Speaker has stated that all the due processes of Parliament will be followed, should such a notification be received by his office.

The 16 FijiFirst MPs were not told to give any explanations and they were only made aware of the FijiFirst Party President Ratu Joji Satakala’s comments on the party’s official facebook page where he said on Sunday that the party will take action against the 16, including Leader of the Opposition Inia Seruiratu, who went against the party directive.

The Central Executive Committee is made up of the party President Ratu Joji Satakala, Vice President Selai Adimaitoga, Acting General Secretary Faiyaz Koya, Treasurer Hem Chand, party leader and founder Voreqe Bainimarama, former General Secretary and founder Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and founder Salesh Kumar.

According to Section 63 of the Fijian Constitution, the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member votes or abstains from voting in Parliament contrary to any direction issued by the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament, without obtaining the prior permission of the political party; or if the Member of Parliament is expelled from the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament and the expulsion was in accordance with the rules of the political party relating to party discipline.



Changes gazetted to salaries, allowances and benefits for President, Speaker, Leader of Opposition and Members of Cabinet and Parliament - PM

PM says he and a few colleagues in Cabinet will not take the salary increase
By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 30/05/2024
Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka

There is a major change tonight as Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka confirms that due processes for changes to salaries, allowances and benefits for the President, Speaker, Leader of Opposition and Members of Cabinet and Parliament as required by the Parliamentary Remunerations Act of 2014 have been gazetted and is now binding on the Executive arm of Government to implement.

Rabuka confirms that he and a few colleagues in Cabinet will not take the salary increase (after removal of the 20 percent pay-reduction put in place by the COVID-19 mini-budget in March 2020.)

However, he says as the 2024-2025 Budget is being finalised in the month of June, before it is tabled in Parliament on Friday 28th June 2024, and then debated in Parliament from 8th to 19th July 2024, this is a window where Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to review or reconsider their decision made last week.

Rabuka says as leaders, Members of Parliament must consider the effect on the country of their vote held on 24th May in Parliament.

He says unless Parliament resolves otherwise before 1st August 2024, the changes based on the parliamentary vote must come into effect on 1st August 2024.

The changes expire on 31st December 2024, unless renewed by Parliament.

Rabuka says the motion resolved by Parliament on 24th May 2024 is in line with sections 3,12 and 13 of the Parliamentary Allowances Act 2014, for amendment of the Schedule of the 2014 Act.

He says the motion amended part 1 on salaries and part 2 on allowances and benefits of the President, the Speaker, Leader of Opposition and Members of Cabinet and Parliament.

Rabuka says as required by the 2014 Act, the Secretary General to Parliament has today gazetted the “determination” by Parliament.

He reiterates that any further changes will need to be considered by Cabinet before it is presented to Parliament for consideration. The Prime Minister says he wants to assure the nation that he is listening to your views aired since the motion was passed last Friday 24th May 2024 in Parliament.

He says that motion was to accept the report and recommendations of the Special Committee on Emoluments appointed by Parliament under Standing Order 29.

The Special Committee on Emoluments also recommended amendment of the 2014 Remunerations Act to require future reviews of salaries, allowances and benefits for Members of Parliament to be conducted by an independent committee and independent experts (not by an Emoluments Committee of Parliament).

Rabuka says this recommendation will require substantive amendment to the Parliamentary Remunerations Act 2014, so it requires a Bill to be drafted by the Solicitor General’s Office.

He says the Bill will then be subject to public consultations where the people of Fiji can have their say and air their views.

It will then be considered by Cabinet before it is tabled in Parliament.

The Special Committee on Emoluments also recommended the substantive review, repeal and updating of the Parliamentary Retirement Allowances Act 1989.

He says this will require a review of the 1989 Act to be carried out with consultations, before a Bill is drafted by the Solicitor General’s Office and considered by Cabinet before it is tabled in Parliament.

The Prime Minister says members of the public will have the opportunity to be heard and have their say on both Bills before they are considered by Cabinet and tabled in Parliament.

However, he says as of the vote held in Parliament on Friday 24th May 2024, on the motion to accept the report and recommendations of the Special Committee on Emoluments, that “determination” or resolution of Parliament is now binding on the Executive arm of Government, to come into effect on 1st August 2024, and expire on 31st December 2024, unless renewed by Parliament. Rabuka says he is gratified to see that the people of Fiji are freely expressing their view, exercising their freedom of expression and they no longer live in fear.

He says the media has freely reported the peoples’ views on the matter and this is democracy in action, where members of the public have their say and media report freely.

It was earlier stated that any changes to the salaries and benefits will go through public consultation, an assessment will be made if the payment can be made based on the economic conditions and a Bill with the proposed salaries and benefits will be taken to parliament.

Attorney General, Siromi Turaga says the Schedule of the Act will be automatically changed as per the recommendation of the Parliamentary Emoluments Commitee.




16 FijiFirst MPs meet with Speaker as they remain in the dark on party decision

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 29/05/2024
FijiFirst MP, Jone Usamate.

The representatives of the 16 FijiFirst Members of Parliament have met with Speaker, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, with the Secretary General of Parliament in attendance, seeking clarification on the processes of Parliament.

FijiFirst MP, Jone Usamate says this follows the statement posted on the FijiFirst Party Facebook page that the party will take action against the FijiFirst Members of Parliament who have been alleged to have voted against the party directive.

Usamate says the Speaker has stated that all the due processes of Parliament will be followed, should such a notification be received by his office.

The 16 FijiFirst MPs have not been told to give any explanations and they have been only made aware of the FijiFirst Party President Ratu Joji Satakala’s comments on the party’s official facebook page where he said on Sunday that the party will be taking action against the 16, including Leader of the Opposition Inia Seruiratu, who went against the party directive.

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 said 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.

The Central Executive Committee is made up of the party President Ratu Joji Satakala, Vice President Selai Adimaitoga, Acting General Secretary Faiyaz Koya, Treasurer Hem Chand, party leader and founder Voreqe Bainimarama, former General Secretary and founder Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and founder Salesh Kumar.

According to Section 63 of the Fijian Constitution, the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member votes or abstains from voting in Parliament contrary to any direction issued by the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament, without obtaining the prior permission of the political party; or if the Member of Parliament is expelled from the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament and the expulsion was in accordance with the rules of the political party relating to party discipline.

Koya and Sayed-Khaiyum have not been answering their phones.



Bulitavu asks why Seruiratu is kept out of the FijiFirst Leadership Committee

Are we breaching our very own constitution - Bulitavu
By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 29/05/2024
Leader of the Opposition and Parliamentary Leader of FijiFirst, Inia Seruiratu, FijiFirst MP, Mosese Bulitavu, Acting General Secretary Faiyaz Koya and former General Secretary and founder Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

FijiFirst MP, Mosese Bulitavu is now asking whether the party is breaching it’s very own party constitution and why is the Leader of the Opposition and Parliamentary Leader of FijiFirst, Inia Seruiratu since taking office on 27th March, 2023, been kept out of the FijiFirst Leadership Committee and not appointed as a Foundation member.

The Central Executive Committee is made up of the party President Ratu Joji Satakala, Vice President Selai Adimaitoga, Acting General Secretary Faiyaz Koya, Treasurer Hem Chand, party leader and founder Voreqe Bainimarama, former General Secretary and founder Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and founder Salesh Kumar.

In an official post on his facebook page, Bulitavu is asking why didn't the Leader of the Opposition, Seruiratu being the rightful Parliamentary Leader who the FijiFirst Constitution says should be the head of the Leadership Committee, take part in the selection of the new Party President, Vice Presidents, Treasurer and the appointment of the acting General Secretary.

Bulitavu says only a FijiFirst Leadership Committee meeting chaired by the Parliamentary Leader can issue a lawful party directive to MPs.

He says Section 5.3 (c)(ii) of the FijiFirst Party Constitution stipulates that "if FijiFirst is in the main opposition party in Parliament, the Parliamentary Leader shall be the Leader of the Opposition."

Bulitavu says in addition, section 5.3 (b)(iii) of the FijiFirst Constitution says that the Parliamentary Leader is the head of the Leadership Committee and in section 5.3 (b)(iv) the Leadership Committee determines the composition of the Central Executive Committee which includes the President, Vice Presidents, the General Secretary and the Treasurer. Any member of the Leadership Committee is a Foundation member.

The 16 FijiFirst Party Members of Parliament who voted for salary and benefit increases for the President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Whips, Leader of Opposition and Members of Parliament, are still awaiting the decision of the party’s Central Executive Committee.

fijivillage News has been told by some within the party that the Central Executive Committee was expected to meet in the west yesterday.

We have been told only Bainimarama will not be in the meeting as he is in prison.

The 16 FijiFirst MPs have not been told to give any explanations and they have been only made aware of the FijiFirst Party President Ratu Joji Satakala’s comments on the party’s official facebook page where he said on Sunday that the party will be taking action against the 16, including Leader of the Opposition Inia Seruiratu, who went against the party directive.

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 said 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 Section 63 of the Fijian Constitution, the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member votes or abstains from voting in Parliament contrary to any direction issued by the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament, without obtaining the prior permission of the political party; or if the Member of Parliament is expelled from the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament and the expulsion was in accordance with the rules of the political party relating to party discipline.

fijivillage News is also trying to get Koya and Sayed-Khaiyum.



Take urgent action on pay rise for teachers to prevent strikes – FTA

Motion passed in Parliament is very unfair - Manumanunitoga
By Marika Rasekaseka
Tuesday 28/05/2024
FTA General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga

The Fijian Teachers Association is pleading to the government to give them assurances that they are going to consider their plea as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary disruptions to the children's education in this country, otherwise, they will be considering strike action.

FTA General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga highlighted this during an interview with fijivillage News and said they are requesting to the government to do something about the teacher's pay and to consider a pay rise for all teachers. Manumanunitoga says they feel that the motion passed in Parliament to increase the salaries of the parliamentarians and Ministers is very unfair.

He adds they have instances where early childhood teachers have been a subject for a very long time after not being paid the right amount of salary from the wages written on their payslips and experienced teachers being considered in any positions, versus most teachers who have just graduated with a degree.

The General Secretary feels that these teachers should also be considered for a better remuneration package that will prevent teachers from migrating overseas and looking for greener pastures overseas.



16 FijiFirst MPs await their fate

Central Executive Committee including founders Sayed-Khaiyum and Kumar was expected to meet today
By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 28/05/2024
[Image: File]

The 16 FijiFirst Party Members of Parliament who voted for salary and benefit increases for the President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Whips, Leader of Opposition and Members of Parliament, are still awaiting the decision of the party’s Central Executive Committee.

fijivillage News has been told by some within the party that the Central Executive Committee was expected to meet in the west today.

The Central Executive Committee is made up of the party President Ratu Joji Satakala, Vice President Selai Adimaitoga, Acting General Secretary Faiyaz Koya, Treasurer Hem Chand, party leader and founder Voreqe Bainimarama, former General Secretary and founder Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and founder Salesh Kumar.

We have been told only Bainimarama will not be in the meeting as he is in prison.

The 16 FijiFirst MPs have not been told to give any explanations and they have been only made aware of the FijiFirst Party President Ratu Joji Satakala’s comments on the party’s official facebook page where he said on Sunday that the party will be taking action against the 16, including Leader of the Opposition Inia Seruiratu, who went against the party directive.

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 said 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 Section 63 of the Fijian Constitution, the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member votes or abstains from voting in Parliament contrary to any direction issued by the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament, without obtaining the prior permission of the political party; or if the Member of Parliament is expelled from the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament and the expulsion was in accordance with the rules of the political party relating to party discipline.

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.

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.

Koya and Sayed-Khaiyum are not answering any calls for now.



Selfish idea for the parliament to allow salary and benefit increases for the few MPs - Jale Samuwai

By Iliana Biutu
Monday 27/05/2024
Photo:File

It is a selfish idea for the parliament to allow salary and benefit increases for Members of Parliament.

This was highlighted by Sawakasa 2 village headman Jale Samuwai while speaking to fijivillage News about the current parliamentarians’ salary increase chaos.

Samuwai says these parliamentarians only think of themselves and they are not considering those who are living under the poverty line.

He says more assistance should be given to the elderly in the villages.

Samuwai further says during the election campaign, these parties always talked about the importance of consultations with the public and now when they are in government, they are only thinking of themselves.

Another Youth Advocate and Human Rights Activist, Avenai Serutabua says the MPs that have voted for their pay increase have chosen to prioritize their pay raises over the needs of the very people they were elected to serve.

Serutabua says the decision to prioritize personal gain over public service is a slap in the face to every citizen who entrusted them with their vote.

He says as our representatives in the highest court of the land, they should be champions of the people, not beneficiaries of our hard-earned money.

He further says instead of squandering resources on unjustifiable pay raises, imagine the impact the money could have if invested in initiatives that empower the youth and create much-needed employment opportunities.

Serutabua says it is time for our leaders to remember their duty to the nation and start serving the people with integrity and humility.

He adds the decision to allocate $8.1 million towards increasing parliamentary pay is not only tone-deaf but also a missed opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of our citizens.

Serutabua adds we need accountability, transparency, and a genuine commitment to the betterment of Fiji.

He is urging our parliamentary representatives to reconsider their priorities and remember the sacred trust placed upon them by the people.

Meanwhile, the Turaga ni Koro of Viseisei Village in Vuda, Inoke Momoedonu says the majority of the people in Fiji are struggling to provide the best for their family and yet members of the parliament want their pay to increase.

Momoedonu says a lot of infrastructure development is required from many villages from many years ago and the government cannot assist those vulnerable communities. He says the government should first consider the need to increase the minimum wages and salaries of civil servants because they are the ones who are doing the work on the ground.



I will wait for the action PM is planning to take against us – Prof. Prasad

PM to take action against NFP for voting against salary motion
By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 28/05/2024
National Federation Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad

National Federation Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad says he does not know what Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka means by taking action against NFP.

Professor Prasad has made the comments after Rabuka said that he will take action against the NFP Members of Parliament who voted against the Lynda Tabuya motion to increase the salaries and benefits of the President, Speaker, Ministers, Leader of the Opposition and Members of Parliament.

When contacted by fijivillage News, Professor Prasad said he will wait for Rabuka to confirm what action he will take against the NFP before making further public comments.

Parliament approved the salary increases for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs on Friday evening.

While speaking during the debate, Professor Biman Prasad opposed the motion to increase the salaries.

40 MPs voted for the salary changes, 7 voted against it and 5 abstained.

While speaking on behalf of the 5 NFP Members of Parliament, Professor Prasad said when the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee report came out on Wednesday, they were to take it back to the NFP Management Board as the decision of the NFP was that the MPs should not recommend increases to their own salaries.

Professor Prasad says their position on this matter is in accordance with the directive of the party and this should not in any way be misinterpreted in terms of their position and the support for the Prime Minister and the coalition government.

Professor Prasad says the NFP earlier voted against the increase in allowances and also does not support the proposed increases in the report this time.

Rabuka has not responded to our questions.

Stay with us for developments.



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.



FijiFirst President statement internal process, it does not affect the work of Opposition MPs for now - Seruiratu

Constitution states MP seat becomes vacant if MP votes or abstains from voting contrary to party directive
By Vijay Narayan
Monday 27/05/2024
Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu

Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu has today said the statement of the FijiFirst Party President, Ratu Joji Satakala regarding the salary and benefits vote is a party internal process and for now does not affect the work of Opposition MPs.

Seruiratu says there has been a lot of publicity on the recent statement of the President of the FijiFirst and intention of instigating disciplinary action on FijiFirst Members of Parliament who voted for the Motion on the Emolument Review Report last Friday.

The FijiFirst Party President has said on the official facebook page that they 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.

This morning, Seruiratu has released a statement saying that the Opposition MPs are currently working very hard in the six Parliamentary Standing Committees that they are members of to scrutinize the reports assigned to them from Parliament. Seruiratu says in addition, four very important Bills were brought to Parliament in the last sitting that are required to go through the Committee process and to be tabled back to Parliament in the August sitting. The Leader of the Opposition says these are important Bills that need to be thoroughly vetted by the Committee and to be enacted by Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

Seruiratu says the Opposition MPs are continuing and working hard on their Committee roles and he would like to assure the people of Fiji that they will continue to diligently do their work as mandated to them through Parliament.

According to Section 63 of the Fijian Constitution, the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member votes or abstains from voting in Parliament contrary to any direction issued by the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament, without obtaining the prior permission of the political party; or if the Member of Parliament is expelled from the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament and the expulsion was in accordance with the rules of the political party relating to party discipline.

Stay with us for developments.



Salary vote chaos, MPs can lose seat if party directive not followed

Singh says he mistakenly abstained
By Vijay Narayan
Monday 27/05/2024
Minister for Employment Relations Agni Deo Singh

Minister for Employment Relations, Agni Deo Singh who abstained from voting in the motion to increase the salaries and benefits of the President, Speaker, Ministers, Leader of the Opposition and Members of Parliament on Saturday, says he made a mistake and has written to the Speaker to change his vote to voting against the motion.

National Federation Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad made it clear that the party’s stand was that they cannot support the motion to increase the salaries and benefits.

According to Section 63 of the Fijian Constitution, the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member votes or abstains from voting in Parliament contrary to any direction issued by the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament, without obtaining the prior permission of the political party; or if the Member of Parliament is expelled from the political party for which he or she was a candidate at the time he or she was elected to Parliament and the expulsion was in accordance with the rules of the political party relating to party discipline.

When questioned by fijivillage News on him abstaining, Agni Deo Singh says he has written to the Speaker on Friday night as he mistakenly thought the red cross button was meant for voting against the motion however it was for abstaining from voting.

Singh says the entire parliamentary system went through an upgrade and he was not familiar with the new system.

He says he agrees 200 percent that there should be no salary increases, and he is waiting for his vote to be changed.

NFP Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad says all members of NFP voted against the motion except Singh.

Prof. Prasad says the Minister for Employment Relations mistakenly pressed the wrong button and he has clarified it to the Speaker of Parliament.

The FijiFirst Party FijiFirst Party President, Ratu Joji Satakala has said on the official facebook page that they 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.

Stay with us for developments.




Prof. Prasad says getting into politics was never about pay and focus is on delivering national budget

By Rashika Kumar, Mohammed Feroz
Sunday 26/05/2024
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Prof Biman Prasad.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says pay for him was never an issue when he got into politics and left his job at the USP.

This comes as he will now get a salary based on the Parliamentary Remunerations Act where his salary was $235,000 and will decrease to $200,000 from 1st August.

Professor Prasad’s salary is $188,000 after a 20 percent reduction early last year when the coalition government proposed the interim measure.

However it will go up to $200,000 after Friday's parliamentary vote.

In an interview with fijivillage News, Professor Prasad says leaving his job at USP meant that he left a significant amount of salary to join politics and be in the Opposition for 8 years.

He says the party’s position was made known in the parliament and he will leave it at that.

Professor Prasad says his job is now focused on managing the finances of the country and delivering the budget and the National Development Plan is almost complete.

When questioned on the salary of teachers and civil servants, Professor Prasad says the budget is expected to look at the salaries and the step movements of all civil servants and there will be some announcements on this on June 28th.

He says this is under consideration by the Ministry of Civil Service with the Ministry of Finance. Professor Prasad says debt reduction will also be part of the agenda for the budget.

He further says they are pleased that sugarcane farmers for the first time are getting record prices of more than $100 which is partly due to an increase in international sugar prices and also because of government contribution when last year they topped up the price to $91 and put in almost $8 million.




MPs pay rise is a breach of the people's trust in the Rabuka Govt, proper procedures not followed - Chaudhry

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 26/05/2024
Former Prime Minister and Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

It’s a gross betrayal of the trust people placed in the Rabuka government.

This is the message from the Fiji Labour Party Leader and former Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry while referring to the hefty increase in salary/allowances the MPs have awarded themselves.

In a statement, Chaudhry says it is notable that in 18 months the coalition government has failed to bring in the promised increase to the minimum wage, but a hike to their own parliamentary pay was approved within 24 hours, which is a blatant breach of proper procedures.

The former Prime Minister pointed out that Parliamentary procedures were not followed in the rush to put a motion through on the highly controversial pay rise.

He says salaries, allowances and other benefits of parliamentarians, the Speaker and the President cannot be altered except by way of an amendment to the Parliamentary Remunerations Act – Section 80 of the 2013 Constitution.

Chaudhry says the Lynda Tabuya motion passed by MPs last Friday is not sufficient authority to implement the much-condemned recommendations of the Tabuya committee report.

He adds it was also highly improper of Tabuya, being a Minister, to have moved the motion without the report being first discussed and endorsed by Cabinet, and the fact that the Prime Minister did not intervene to put matters right shows a pathetic lack of discipline within his party and his coalition partners.

The FLP Leader says it was sheer greed that ultimately won the day for the self-serving MPs who voted for it, and the mounting problems of our nation cannot be solved with such selfish people at the helm.

He says the outpouring of public disgust and anger at this most recent display of the greed and self-interest that drives those at the helm of our nation is fully justified.

Chaudhry says it’s a shameful and immoral act coming at a time when the nation is going through a serious financial crisis and the economy is flagging.

The former Prime Minister adds the MPs have shown sheer insensitivity and open contempt for the cry of our poor families who struggle every day to put a decent meal on the table for their children, made worse after the imposition of 15 percent VAT on most goods and services.

He adds it’s also a slap on the face of our elderly citizens who have been crying for justice for the wrong inflicted on them in 2012 when their FNPF pensions were arbitrarily and unlawfully slashed by 50 percent, creating much hardship.




Rabuka says $8.1 million is the impact of the salary increase

By Mikaele Liga
Sunday 26/05/2024
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says when we take the salary increases approved in parliament in proper perspective, it is $8.1 million and that is the impact of this increase.

Rabuka says at the beginning of the school year last year, the Government spent $44 million for back-to-school and then another $42 million this year for back-to-school education for the children of Fiji.

He says they gave money to farmers for rent relief and he is sure most of those farmers did not vote for him.

Rabuka says they committed a lot of money to the increase in rice prices and a lot of those rice farmers did not vote for him either.

He told fijivillage News that this shows to the people that the Government is working for the people.

Rabuka adds he reminds himself of his oath of office which is to look after the welfare of all Fijians.

He says he understands and expects some members of the public to be frustrated and he knows people are struggling, including those that voted for them, and says they are going through the normal process of handling things in Parliament.



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.




AG defends media freedom as Koya accuses media of biased reporting

By Rashika Kumar
Saturday 25/05/2024
Attorney General Siromi Turaga and FijiFirst MP Faiyaz Koya. [Image: Parliament of Fiji]

Attorney General Siromi Turaga stresses that the media is free after FijiFirst MP Faiyaz Koya accused the media of being biased when reporting on the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee report earlier this week.

Turaga highlighted this while responding to Koya’s end of the week statement in Parliament on the importance of transparency, accountability and judicial independence in good governance and adherence to the rule of law before the debate on the motion to change the salaries and allowances of a number of executive offices including those of Members of Parliament,

He says transparency and accountability are noble principles for any democratic nation to uphold and promote but the government is measured by what you do and not what you preach.

He says two weeks ago he was invited by the Fijian Media Association for International Press Freedom Day celebrations and he was shocked to know that he is the first cabinet minister to attend their function after 16 years.

The Attorney General says this means there was no media freedom in the last 16 years and the government brought the light and gone are the days people were suppressed.

While highlighting Minister For Lands Filimoni Vosarogo’s term as the Director for Legal Aid and how his contract was not renewed and how he as a former Magistrate was critised by the former Attorney General for a decision he made and the appeal hearing was heard the very next day, Turaga says people can now see that organisations operate independently.

He says a former DPP who was a Sri Lankan and was celebrating her birthday, was given a letter to leave the next day while another Sri Lankan was also a woman was removed from her role as the Chief Registrar and replaced by Mohammed Saneem.

He asks why was Saneem appointed when there were more senior, matured lawyers than him and does he have any connection with the former Attorney General and was he destined to be a Permanent Secretary and later the Supervisor of Elections.

He says the Opposition is talking about accountability and while pointing out Section 121 of the 2013 Constitution on Accountability and Transparency Commission, Turaga asks where is the Commission.

He says he does not appear before the Fiji Law Society and lectures every lawyer and respects them.

The Attorney General says there is a lot of work to be done and we must acknowledge that the country has gone through the dark ages and the system was toxic and it needs to be changed and that change came on the 24th of December in 2022.

Meanwhile, Koya says transparency and accountability are demanded by the law and our democracy needs to ensure that the three arms of government remain completely independent.

He says they cannot allow for the blurring of the lines for any reason even especially if it is politically motivated or for other reasons. He further says that people need to understand that government is a representative of and for the people and what they do in Parliament and what transpires in a judiciary or Ministry is the right of the people to know.

The MP says the media also plays a key role to holding governments accountable and to ensure transparency.

He says, on Thursday some media were bringing something that was tabled that was only half set out and that is not very unbiased.

Koya says these particular outlets brought something that was tabled that is causing much debate in the nation and they debated it in Parliament yesterday.

He says unbiased reporting is a must where true accountability and transparency can flourish.

He says the media should not half read it, put out something just as a piece and blame something about it and pointed out that that particular report was independent.

The report was tabled in Parliament and is a public document which includes all the party submissions on the salary increases.




People facing difficulty in putting food on the table but MPs work overtime to increase their pay – Lal

By Rashika Kumar
Sunday 26/05/2024
Dialogue Fiji Executive Director Nilesh Lal.

Amidst public outrage to the increase in salary for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs, Dialogue Fiji Executive Director Nilesh Lal says there is a need to provide some relief to people as they are facing difficulty in putting food on the table and this is something that needs to be looked at seriously.

In an interview with fijivillage News, Lal says they are disappointed as now is not the right time in light of the economic conditions and the general sentiment of the public.

He says people have been asked to tighten their belts and the MPs have approved a massive pay rise for themselves.

Lal says fundamentally, he is not against the idea of a reassessment of salaries, however, when a country is on a fiscal consolidation path, or when the people have been told that we do not really have a choice, but to subject ourselves to painful austerity measures, and MPs are literally working overtime to increase their own salary then there is bound to be public outrage.

He says there are many priorities that the government can put higher on their list of priorities such as the public health sector.

He also says resources need to be allocated to the Police Force in order to also increase the technical capacity to fight the growing problem of drugs.

Lal says there is obviously a need to upgrade public infrastructure and look into other problems including that of informal housing.



FCOSS saddened and disgusted by salary increase

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Saturday 25/05/2024
FCOSS Executive Director Vani Catanasiga.

The Fiji Council of Social Services is disappointed that Parliament approved the salary increases for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs in the Parliament session yesterday afternoon.

FCOSS Executive Director Vani Catanasiga says it is clear that other pressing priorities are quite urgent that should be tabled first rather than addressing the salaries.

She says it’s quite revealing to them that as members of the public and FCOSS, the focus of our elected representatives is not on the people.

Catanasiga says they are not in support of the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee.

She adds this is really a Parliament that is quite detached from the people.

Catanasiga commended the NFP team in Parliament for taking a principled stand on this issue, and not supporting the salary increases.



Salary increase shameful - NGO Coalition

By Vijay Narayan
Saturday 25/05/2024
[Image: Parliament of Fiji]

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights in Fiji says it watched the passing of the motion that guarantees shameful salary and benefit increases for the President, Speaker of Parliament, Ministers, Assistant Ministers, and Members of Parliament last night with a depleting sense of trust in the parliamentarians and the Coalition Government.

They remind the Coalition Government of the country’s high national debt, high incidents of poverty where 400,000 Fijians are living below the poverty line, poor education outcomes for young people, poor quality healthcare services and compensation for public health nurses and doctors, crumbling water infrastructure where Fijian families continue to experience water disruptions and urgent need to pay our workers a wage to cope with increasing costs of living and ensure dignity in the workplace.

The NGOs say a sad example is media reports this week of nurses buying syringes and needles for patients at public hospitals and nurses and security guards carrying women in labour down the stairs as the lift is not working at CWM Hospital.

The NGO Coalition says it is absolutely shameful that only seven parliamentarians voted against the motion while five abstained.

They say they would like to tell the 40 parliamentarians that supported the motion to listen to the voters because as public opinion displayed this week – the majority of Fijians do not agree with you.

The NGOs say they strongly believe that a special committee made up of parliamentarians should not decide the salaries and benefits of parliamentarians as this is the role of an independent committee or body that will do this independently of both the Parliament and the Government.

The Coalition is also concerned with how the Parliament handled this motion as when the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee Report was tabled in Parliament this week, there was agreement for the report to be debated at a later date.

They ask where is the same level of urgency for issues impacting our nation such as poverty, violence against women and girls, drug use, high rates of HIV cases, food insecurity, climate change and unfair wages for workers.

The NGO Coalition strongly believes that as active citizens of a democracy, we must hold our leaders accountable.

They say just because people voted for change does not mean they should blindly support the leaders.

The Coalition says we must call out our leaders when we feel they are drifting from prioritising real issues.

The NGOs stress that the MPs are in their positions temporarily and could easily be replaced at the next general elections; it is the welfare of the people that should guide their decision making.


NFP opposes motion as 40 MPs vote for salary increases for President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 24/05/2024

Parliament has this afternoon approved the salary increases for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs.

While speaking during the debate, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad opposed the motion to increase the salaries.

40 MPs voted for the salary changes, 7 voted against it and 5 abstained.

Professor Prasad also raised the issue regarding the Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu making comments about FijiFirst Party submissions being highlighted in the media, and reminded Seruiratu that all the party submissions were in the report which was a public document.

He says the FijiFirst wants to hide their submission from the public.

While speaking on behalf of the 5 NFP Members of Parliament, Professor Prasad says when the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee report came out on Wednesday, they were to take it back to the NFP Management Board as the decision of the NFP was that the MPs should not recommend increases to their own salaries.

Professor Prasad says their position on this matter is in accordance with the directive of the party and this should not be in any way be construed or misinterpreted in terms of their position and the support for the Prime Minister and the coalition government.

He says the Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu cannot shy away from the fact that this was a Parliament initiative, not just a government initiative.

Professor Prasad says the NFP earlier voted against the increase in allowances and also does not support the proposed increases in the report this time.

In a surprise move this afternoon, Parliament went overtime and decided to debate and vote on the salary increases recommended for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs today.

The Friday session usually finishes at lunch time.

When the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee chaired by Lynda Tabuya presented the report earlier this week recommending salary increases, it was agreed that the report would be debated on a later date.

Tabuya moved a motion in Parliament this afternoon that Parliament debates and approves the recommendations for the salary changes and the changes to come into effect on the 1st of August 2024 and expire on the 31st of December 2024.

Although many calls have been made to reconsider the proposed increase based on the economic hardship faced by many Fijians and the call by the National Federation Party in it’s submission contained in the report to leave the assessment, submission and the preparation of the report to independent consultants, the debate and vote went ahead.

According to the interim measure that the government had proposed and approved through parliament within the current budget year, the Prime Minister’s salary was reduced from $328,750 to $263,000, the Minister for Finance’s salary was reduced from $235,000 to $188,000, Ministers’ salaries were reduced from between $200,000 and $185,000 to $160,000 and $148,000, Assistant Ministers’ salaries from $90,000 to $72,000 and the Leader of Opposition’s salaries from $120,000 to $96,000.

The Parliamentary Emoluments Committee recommended an increase in the President’s pay by $55,000, all Ministers to be on a $200,000 salary which sees a decrease in salary for the Minister for Finance based on the Parliamentary Remunerations Act and increase for other Ministers who are on $160,000, an increase in Assistant Ministers’ pay from $90,000 to $120,000, an increase in the Leader of Opposition’s pay from $120,000 to $200,000, an increase in the pay of Members of Parliament from $50,000 to $95,000 and a 2.5 percent reduction in the Prime Minister’s pay.

The Members of the Committee for the production of the bipartisan report were Tabuya, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, Aseri Radrodro, Alvick Maharaj and Mosese Bulitavu.

It was recommended that the President’s salary should increase from $130,000 to $185,000 as the Head of State deserves a salary that reflects that post, and the Prime Minister’s salary to be reduced from $328,750 based on the Act to $320,000 to be at the same level as the salary of the Chief Justice as both positions are head of a branch of government.

The committee recommended that the Speaker’s salary be increased as well from $150,000 to $220,000.

While presenting the report to parliament which includes recommendations agreed to representatives of both sides of parliament and an independent consultant, Chair of the Committee, Lynda Tabuya says the committee has thoroughly scrutinised the report and aims to ensure fair and reasonable recompense for Members, helping to attract and retain skilled and talented Members of Parliament that effectively represent the interests of the community.

The recommendations also confirm that the current system of overseas travel per diem should still be bench-marked to the United Nations Daily Subsistence Allowance but with lower additional allowances.

The committee has also recommended for official residences for the Speaker of Parliament and the Leader of the Opposition.

All these recommendations have been approved.



Report is discriminatory as pension for youth parliamentarians not included - Maharaj

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Friday 24/05/2024
Opposition MP and Parliamentary Emoluments Committee member Alvick Maharaj

Opposition MP and Parliamentary Emoluments Committee member Alvick Maharaj says it is discriminatory that the pension of Parliamentarians was not part of their report since members who have not reached the age of 55 years are also giving their time, devotion, and work as the same as any other member of any age category sitting in this parliament.

While speaking on the motion to debate and vote on the salary increases recommended for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs this afternoon, Maharaj said he would like to raise this issue as he was not in consensus with this particular issue when it came to the committee and unfortunately, it was not reflected in the report.

He says he has been representing youths in Parliament for the past 10 years as he entered Parliament at the age of 30 years.

He adds that he thinks it’s discriminatory against the youths who are categorised and won’t be getting the full pension just because they entered the parliament at a younger stage.


Parliament has this afternoon approved the salary increases for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs.

40 MPs voted for the salary changes, 7 voted against it and 5 abstained.



PM says he is glad that his salary is getting reduced compared to the previous approved PM’s salary

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 24/05/2024
Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka

Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka says he is glad that his salary is proposed to be reduced in the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee report.

While speaking on the motion to debate and vote on the salary increases recommended for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs today, Rabuka says he speaks on behalf of all Fijians and he calls on all MPs not to just look after their own interests.

An emotional Rabuka says he will be guided by his oath as Prime Minister which he swore in December 2022.




Parliament and Govt should be seen as an employer of choice - Seruiratu

By Mosese Raqio
Friday 24/05/2024
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Inia Seruiratu

We are just fulfilling the process of Parliament and that's what we have done.

This was highlighted by the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Inia Seruiratu while speaking on the motion to debate and vote on the salary increases recommended for the President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs today.

Seruiratu says it was moved in July and September last year and it was again discussed with another motion from the Leader of Government in Parliament.

He says they are exactly doing what the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad had said.

He adds Professor Prasad said that based on the system that was used previously, they should put it into the committee, and bring independent consultants who in the end will come back into Parliament and they will vote for it.

Seruiratu says it was initiated by the government for whatever reasons and motives behind it.

Seruiratu further says that he has been briefed by the members of the committee that it is unfortunate that perhaps not all the discussions involved during the deliberations are in the report.

He says there were some issues as well that they raised and they understand the democratic process and it was put to vote and so forth.

He adds that even though they lost their votes, it was all for fairness sake.

Seruiratu further says this is not an easy matter to discuss as it affects all of them but at the same time, they need to be fair and honest with themselves as well.

He says he is speaking on behalf of the members of the opposition given the experience that they have had while they were still in government and also perhaps speaking on behalf of parliamentarians that will come after them.

Seruiratu says we live in a benefit-oriented society and of course, we must look at it not only for now but for the future as well.

He says Parliament and Government has to be seen as an equal employment opportunity provider and of course an employer of choice as well for all Fijians.

Seruiratu says this is something that they should look into when deliberating on this issue.



Salary increases are outrageous, refer report to public consultation – Chaudhry

By Alipate Narawa
Friday 24/05/2024
Former Prime Minister and FLP Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

The salary increases recommended by the bipartisan Parliamentary Emoluments Committee are outrageous and a slap on the face of the poor.

As an interim measure, the government had proposed and approved through parliament within the current budget year to reduce the Prime Minister’s salary from $328,750 to $263,000, the Minister for Finance’s salary was reduced from $235,000 to $188,000, Ministers’ salaries were reduced from between $200,000 and $185,000 to $160,000 and $148,000, Assistant Ministers’ salaries from $90,000 to $72,000 and the Leader of Opposition’s salaries from $120,000 to $96,000.

Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says the report now recommends the Prime Minister’s salary to be increased to $320,000, a 21 percent pay rise, while the President will receive an extra 42 percent.

Chaudhry says Ministers will get up to 35 percent and Assistant Minister's 66 percent increases in their salaries respectively.

He says the Speaker will collect a 47 percent pay rise while the Leader of the Opposition gets a bonanza of a $104,000 (108 percent) increase in their salary.

The former Prime Minister says in their election campaigns, the coalition parties had promised to significantly reduce the excessively high salaries and allowances set by the FijiFirst government.

He says they have obviously changed their minds and are going back on their promises just as they have done with other promises, such as reducing the cost of living and legislating a fair minimum wage. Chaudhry says in fact, the increase of high-end wages is in itself inflationary and will only aggravate the galloping cost of living.

He says this will also, no doubt, have a ripple effect on the long pending wage and salary negotiations in the public service, which will reduce the capacity in the government’s budget to provide essential services to those in need.

The Party Leader says this is policy-making at its most self-indulgent without consideration to its detrimental impact on the people of Fiji.

He says while the general population has to endure austerity measures in depressed economic conditions, Ministers are queuing up for pay increases.

Chaudhry says the report should be referred to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs for public consultation.

He says it is vital that the views be sought from the people, the trade unions and employers.

The Labour Leader says if these pay rises stand, we would hope that minimum wage restructuring will receive the same amount of attention.



People’s Alliance had proposed for PM’s pay to be maintained at $328,750

By Vijay Narayan, Mikaele Liga
Thursday 23/05/2024
Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka

The People’s Alliance Party had proposed to the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee for the Prime Minister’s salary to be maintained at $328,750 and overseas travel allowances to be 250 percent UN Daily Subsistence Allowance + $600 incidental.

When questioned by fijivillage News on what is the message to the people who are facing severe economic hardships after the committee recommended substantial increases in the salaries, allowances, and benefits for the President, Speaker of Parliament, Government Ministers, and Members of Parliament, Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka believes the increase is needed for the Members of Parliament who deal with the affairs of the State.

The Parliamentary Emoluments Committee has recommended an increase in the President’s pay by $55,000, all Ministers to be on a $200,000 salary which sees a decrease in salary for the Minister for Finance and increase for other Ministers who are on $160,000, an increase in Assistant Ministers’ pay from $90,000 to $120,000, an increase in the Leader of Opposition’s pay from $120,000 to $200,000, an increase in the pay of Members of Parliament from $50,000 to $95,000 and a 2.5 percent reduction in the Prime Minister’s pay.

While presenting the report to parliament which includes recommendations agreed to by committee representatives from both sides of parliament and an independent consultant, Chair of the Committee, Lynda Tabuya says the committee has thoroughly scrutinised the report and aims to ensure fair and reasonable recompense for Members, helping to attract and retain skilled and talented Members of Parliament that effectively represent the interests of the community. The Members of the Committee for the production of the bipartisan report were Tabuya, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, Aseri Radrodro, Alvick Maharaj and Mosese Bulitavu.

It is recommended that the President’s salary should increase from $130,000 to $185,000 as the Head of State deserves a salary that reflects that post, and the Prime Minister’s salary to be reduced from $328,750 to $320,000 to be at the same level as the salary of the Chief Justice as both positions are head of a branch of government.

The committee recommends that the Speaker’s salary be increased as well from $150,000 to $220,000.

These salaries are proposed compared to what is in the current Act.

As an interim measure, the government had proposed and approved through parliament within the current budget year to reduce the Prime Minister’s salary from $328,750 to $263,000, the Minister for Finance’s salary was reduced from $235,000 to $188,000, Ministers’ salaries were reduced from between $200,000 and $185,000 to $160,000 and $148,000, Assistant Ministers’ salaries from $90,000 to $72,000 and the Leader of Opposition’s salaries from $120,000 to $96,000.

The committee also recommends that the remuneration for the President and Speaker be removed from the Parliamentary Remunerations Act and be moved to the Higher Salaries Commission; that the Act should be amended to provide for classification of Ministers and Assistant Minister as Members of Parliament; amend the Act to require an annual declaration to be filed by Members as to their pecuniary interests, income and assets; and that the Code of Conduct Bill for MPs be brought to Parliament for consideration.

The recommendations also confirm that the current system of overseas travel per diem should still be benchmarked to the United Nations Daily Subsistence Allowance but with lower additional allowances.

The recommendations in the report will be debated in parliament on a later date.

Meanwhile in their submission which is contained in the report presented Committee Chair, Lynda Tabuya, the People’s Alliance also proposed the President’s salary to be increased from $130,000 to $250,000 and for overseas travel allowances to be set at 50 percent UNDP + $300 incidental.

The proposal says the 3 Deputy Prime Ministers should be on $200,000 salary each and their overseas travel allowance to be 200 percent UNDP + $500 incidental.

According to the PA, the Minister for Finance should be on $235,000 and have overseas travel allowance 200 percent UNDP + $500 incidental.

The People’s Alliance says the Ministers for Health, Education, Infrastructure and Transport are to be on $200,000 and overseas travel allowance 200 percent UNDP + $500 incidental, other Ministers $185,000 salary and overseas travel allowance 200 percent UNDP + $500 incidental, the Speaker to have $150,000 salary and overseas travel allowance 100 percent UNDP + $300 incidental, the Leader of the Opposition $120,000 salary and overseas travel allowance of 100 percent UNDP + $300 incidental.

They also proposed that Members of Parliament be on a $50,000 salary and overseas travel allowance of 100 percent UNDP + $200 incidental.

Medical Insurance, Life Cover, Vehicle Rebate is proposed for all these positions


FijiFirst submitted proposal similar to the committee recommendation for salary increases

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 23/05/2024
Photo : File

The only opposition party in parliament, the 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.

The proposal which is included in the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee report tabled in parliament confirms that the 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.

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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Not the right time to increase MPs pay when many Fijians are struggling – Dialogue Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 23/05/2024
Executive Director of Dialogue Fiji, Nilesh Lal

Dialogue Fiji has today expressed its concern and disappointment over the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Special Committee on Emoluments, which propose substantial increases in the salaries, allowances, and benefits for the President, Speaker of Parliament, Government Ministers, and Members of Parliament.

Executive Director of Dialogue Fiji, Nilesh Lal says the recommendations from the Special Committee come at a time when many Fijians are struggling to make ends meet, and implementing such increases would not only put significant pressure on the public coffers but also send the wrong message to the populace, who are enduring economic hardships.

He says at a time when the nation is grappling with economic challenges and the public is subjected to austerity measures and fiscal consolidation policies, it is utterly insensitive and inappropriate to propose such significant hikes in the compensation of MPs and statutory position holders.

Lal says these recommendations are out of touch with the economic realities faced by the majority of Fijians and their sentiments.

Dialogue Fiji says according to the recommendations endorsed by the committee, Members of Parliament would get a whopping 138 percent increase in salary, Assistant Ministers would get a 67 percent increase, the Speaker of Parliament would get a 47 percent increase, the Leader of Opposition would get a 108 percent increase, Ministers would receive up to 35 percent increase, the Prime Minister would get a 22 percent increase, while the President would get a 42 percent increase in salary based on the rates compared to in the Parliamentary Remunerations Act.

Lal says the proposal also appears to include an increase in the overseas travel per diem for the President and Prime Minister, although the formula and explanations provided are somewhat confusing.

Dialogue Fiji says the committee is also proposing that the state now provide official residences for the Speaker of Parliament and the Leader of the Opposition.

It is also proposed that MPs and the Speaker of Parliament receive tax and duty exemptions on the purchase of their vehicles.

Medical and life insurance payments by the state for all MPs are also being proposed, along with additional remuneration for the Deputy Speaker, Leader of Government, and party whips and deputy whips.

Lal adds this proposal, if implemented, would result in the highest compensation for MPs and statutory position holders in Fiji’s history.

He says never before have MPs and statutory officers been compensated so generously.

Dialogue Fiji says the bloated government, with its 29 ministers and assistant ministers, already places a heavy burden on public finances.

Lal says it is also noteworthy that the committee only called for submissions from the four political parties represented in parliament, who clearly have a vested interest in the matter, and based its endorsements solely on the recommendations of a consultant.

Dialogue Fiji urges the parliament to reject these recommendations and to prioritize the needs of the nation over the interests of a few.

Lal says if the public is being urged to tighten their belts, it is morally improper for MPs to receive such huge increases in pay, although some increases for ordinary MPs and Assistant Ministers are justified in consideration of the disparities in salaries and the elevated cost of living.




NFP stresses committee should not have a say on review of MPs salaries and allowances

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 23/05/2024

The National Federation Party had submitted to the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee in August last year that the committee should not make its own recommendations on the review of the salaries and allowances of the Prime Minister, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Members of Parliament, and anything to the contrary will compromise the independence of this process.

In it’s submission which is contained in the report tabled in parliament by Committee Chair, Lynda Tabuya, the NFP says in the interest of transparency, the report should not be compiled or signed by the Members of Parliament but by experts and only endorsed by the Members.

NFP says the committee, in their firm view, should only be the conduit to take the report to the floor of parliament.

It says the committee should neither hear nor receive submissions on the review of salaries and allowances of the Prime Minister, Ministers and Members of Parliament without the active participation of independent experts.

The NFP adds it should not be the committee's role but that of the experts to scrutinise the submissions on the review of the salaries and allowances.

At the time the NFP had recommended, subject to independent analysis by experts: that there should be a reduction in salaries by 30 percent of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, and a reduction in overseas travel allowances for the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Members of Parliament.

It also recommended that the Prime Minister’s 250 percent per diem loading reduced to 100 percent, Ministers 200 percent per diem loading reduced to 50 percent, Leader of the Opposition 100 percent loading reduced to 50 percent, Assistant Ministers and Members of Parliament 100 percent per diem loading reduced to 25 percent and all exorbitant incidental allowances provided for travel to be removed.

The NFP noted there are no provisions in the budget documentation that provides for any proposed increase to salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament within the current budget year.

NFP says the countervailing economic conditions such as government debt were also repeatedly referred to by MPs of the Coalition Government during the budget debate.

The party says it must be noted that at least 25 percent of the budget or $1 billion will go towards debt-servicing.

The NFP also respectfully suggested that salaries and allowance determinations for the President and the Speaker be removed from the Parliamentary Remunerations Act 2014 and that separate legislation and remuneration determinations are done for these high constitutional offices, as Head of State and the Head of the Legislature.

The NFP believes that in order to exemplify good leadership from the highest court of the land, elected Legislators must treat any review of salaries and allowances, at arms length, because of the immediate self-serving inferences that may be drawn.

The party says perceptions do matter in politics.

It says such an independent and impartial determination should consider benefits such as comprehensive insurance cover and pension package so that in totality amended salaries and allowances may be considered in the 2024-2025 budget, provided the "countervailing economic conditions" do not prevail.

NFP says the latest initiative to review parliamentary salaries and allowances is connected to the Parliamentary Remunerations Decree of 3rd October 2014, now known as an Act.

It says the Act was the last Decree promulgated on 3rd October 2014 by the newly elected FijiFirst government, three days before the first sitting of parliament after more than seven-and-half-years of dictatorship.

NFP says the then newly elected FijiFirst government arbitrarily determined what the salaries and benefits should be for the President, Speaker, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Members of Parliament.

It says exorbitantly high salaries were determined for the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers.

In the case of the Prime Minister, the salary hike was 210 percent from the 2006 salary of the then Prime Minister.

The Assistant Ministers were given salaries that were more than what was paid to Cabinet Ministers in 2006 and of Ministers also enjoyed salaries that were at least $100,000 more than their predecessors.

Another Committee was endorsed by parliament in July 2016.

NFP says that committee received submissions from FijiFirst, SODELPA and NFP.

It says in the case of NFP, their MP, Prem Singh did not attend any meeting because he opposed the manner in which the allowances were going to be determined, without any independent expertise. The party says not surprisingly, it ended up as a farcical exercise with astronomical increases to allowances.

NFP says parliamentary sitting allowances were increased to $350 per day plus $30 for each of the three meals. This was for Members residing more than 30 kilometres from Parliament. Committee sitting allowances increased from $80 to $200 per sitting.

The overseas travel allowances of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers sky-rocketed to an average of $3000 per day for Prime Minister and almost $2,500 per day for Ministers.

When the recommendations were put to vote on 29th September 2016, only the NFP voted against it as the party says it lacked any independence whatsoever.


Salary increases recommended for President, Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and MPs

Salary reduction recommended for PM and Minister for Finance

By: Vijay Narayan

23/05/2024

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The Parliamentary Emoluments Committee has recommended an increase in the President’s pay by $55,000, all Ministers to be on a $200,000 salary which sees a decrease in salary for the Minister for Finance and increase for other Ministers who are on $160,000, an increase in Assistant Ministers’ pay from $90,000 to $120,000, an increase in the Leader of Opposition’s pay from $120,000 to $200,000, an increase in the pay of Members of Parliament from $50,000 to $95,000 and a 2.5 percent reduction in the Prime Minister’s pay.

While presenting the report to parliament which includes recommendations agreed to by committee representatives from both sides of parliament and an independent consultant, Chair of the Committee, Lynda Tabuya says the committee has thoroughly scrutinised the report and aims to ensure fair and reasonable recompense for Members, helping to attract and retain skilled and talented Members of Parliament that effectively represent the interests of the community.

The Members of the Committee for the production of the bipartisan report were Tabuya, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, Aseri Radrodro, Alvick Maharaj and Mosese Bulitavu.

It is recommended that the President’s salary should increase from $130,000 to $185,000 as the Head of State deserves a salary that reflects that post, and the Prime Minister’s salary to be reduced from $328,750 to $320,000 to be at the same level as the salary of the Chief Justice as both positions are head of a branch of government.

The committee recommends that the Speaker’s salary be increased as well from $150,000 to $220,000.

These salaries are proposed compared to what is in the current Act.

As an interim measure, the government had proposed and approved through parliament within the current budget year to reduce the Prime Minister’s salary from $328,750 to $263,000, the Minister for Finance’s salary was reduced from $235,000 to $188,000, Ministers’ salaries were reduced from between $200,000 and $185,000 to $160,000 and $148,000, Assistant Ministers’ salaries from $90,000 to $72,000 and the Leader of Opposition’s salaries from $120,000 to $96,000.

The committee also recommends that the remuneration for the President and Speaker be removed from the Parliamentary Remunerations Act and be moved to the Higher Salaries Commission; that the Act should be amended to provide for classification of Ministers and Assistant Minister as Members of Parliament; amend the Act to require an annual declaration to be filed by Members as to their pecuniary interests, income and assets; and that the Code of Conduct Bill for MPs be brought to Parliament for consideration.

The recommendations also confirm that the current system of overseas travel per diem should still be benchmarked to the United Nations Daily Subsistence Allowance but with lower additional allowances.

The recommendations in the report will be debated in parliament on a later date.




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