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

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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