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

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.

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