Are our MPs driven by greed?

  • 8th July 2015
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It is grossly unethical, if not scandalous, for Parliament to appoint its own members to review their own pays.

Indeed, the entire review process is just another farce. It should, in fact, be transparent and kept totally at arm’s length from those who are to directly benefit from it..

The Speaker yesterday named a 5-member committee comprising:
Jone Usamate, Sanjit Patel and Veena Bhatnagar (FF),
Salote Radrodro (SODELPA) and Tupou Draunidalo (NFP).

Here’s how the process announced in Parliament yesterday is going to work:
• the 5-member parliamentary committee will appoint an independent organization to review parliamentary pays.
• the report of the independent organization will then be reviewed by the parliamentary emoluments committee which is then to report to parliament with its own recommendations

Whatever the report of the “independent organization” will be is not material because at the end of the day the emoluments committee has the right to review it and present to parliament its own recommendations, should it not be happy with the recommendations of the so-called independent organisation.

Furthermore, the reference to an “independent organization” is interesting. The emoluments committee could well end up appointing Aunty Noor’s organization or any other organization with close ties to the regime. And there goes your independence.

The process is contrary to the requirements of the Parliamentary Remunerations Decree No 29 of 2014. Section 9 of the Decree requires Parliament to appoint a committee which would prepare a report and table it in Parliament.

It does not require that the appointees to a committee shall be MPs. There is no provision for the appointment of two entities to undertake the review, as has been sanctioned by the resolution of Parliament.

Now let’s look at how transparent and independent was the parliamentary emolument determining machinery under the 1997 Constitution.

Under Section 83 of the 1997 Constitution, the Committee was to comprise a chairperson and two other members one of whom must be a qualified and experienced “actuary or accountant”. Any person whose salary was to be reviewed by the Commission was not entitled to be appointed a member.
The committee was to be appointed by the President on the recommendations of sector standing committee of Parliament responsible for administrative services.

The Committee’s recommendations went directly to the Speaker who had to table it in Parliament within 5 days of receiving the report.

IS THERE A NEED FOR AN EMOLUMENTS REVIEW?

This is the other issue. It must be remembered that the first act of the FF Government after the September general elections was to pass a decree (dated 3rd October) giving themselves a huge pay rise. As per the increase, the Prime Minister’s annual salary is now close to half a million dollars, if perks are taken into consideration.

In 2006, the Prime Minister’s salary was just $120,000 a year with perks totalling $60,000 ie. a total of $180,000.

It seems there is no limit to the greed of our present MPs. It is very disappointing to see that the Opposition, instead of questioning the need for another pay review so soon, has acquiesced in this exercise.

There is no question that the review is motivated by the MPs desire for a further pay hike.

Can the nation afford such extravagance for our parliamentarians when almost half our people are living in poverty and the minimum national wage for the ordinary worker is a meagre $2.32 an hour or $92 per week? Shocking!