Fiji Labour Party calls on the interim government to comment on the authenticity of reports that salaries of Cabinet Ministers and a legal consultant hired by the government are paid through the accounting firm of BDO (Aliz).
There have been reports recently that ministers were not paid through the Treasury since March/April this year. Instead, their payroll was contracted out to BDO (Aliz) which is managed by Dr. Nur Bano Ali who is related (aunt) to the interim Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Our inquiries revealed that tenders or expressions of interest for the work were not advertised.
According to information published on the internet interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama receives an annual salary of $267,000 while the interim Attorney General receives $336,000.
These are super salaries: no former Prime Minister or Attorney General has been paid anywhere near these figures. Salaries and allowances of PMs and Ministers were governed by determinations made by the Parliamentary Salaries Commission and ranged from $115,000 plus State housing for the PM to $96,000 including housing allowance, for the Attorney General/Ministers.
It will be recalled that Commodore Bainimarama had made it explicitly clear in 2007 that he, as well as all Ministers (including the AG), would receive only ONE salary irrespective of the number of portfolios they held. We believe that such is the case with all other Ministers who receive much, much less compared to the interim PM and the AG.
Interestingly, the Executive Authority of Fiji Decree No.2, 2009 states at Section 9 that:
“A Minister is entitled to remuneration and allowances that were applicable before the 10th day of April 2009, provided that the President may by Decree amend, vary or replace the remuneration or allowance payable to a Minister.”
We have not seen any Decree which has altered, amended or varied the above provision.
The tax payer and the people of Fiji are entitled to know the truth. All public officials, including the Prime Minister and Ministers, must be paid through the Treasury, at rates approved by law and in a transparent manner.
After all, there has been much rhetoric on transparency and accountability by the High Command of the interim government.
The administration must now clarify whether the reports are true.