FLP calls on the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to clarify reports that they are each collecting upwards of $1million a year in salary and benefits.
Salaries paid to Bainimarama and Khaiyum have been a matter of public concern and controversy since early 2010 when the ministerial payroll was removed from the ambit of the Treasury and handed over to be managed secretly by the Suva accounting firm of AG’s aunt, Nur Bano Ali.
This was in flagrant breach of Public Service regulations, and the rules of transparency and accountability. As a result, for the first time in Fiji’s history, Cabinet salaries are being kept secret from the people when, in the past, it had always been a matter of public knowledge.
One must ask why the secrecy? Is it because, as reports indicate, Prime Minister Bainimarama and his Ministers are paying themselves SUPER salaries – in the case of Bainimarama it is reportedly $1.326 million annually while Aiyaz Khaiyum is said to be picking up a hefty $1.03 million a year.
These salaries are outrageously high. No former prime minister or attorney general had 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 Prime Minister to $96,000 including housing allowance to the Attorney General/Ministers.
It should be recalled that 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.
Furthermore, the Executive Authority of Fiji Decree No.2 of 2009 states as follows at Section 9: 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 that has amended, varied or replaced the provisions of Decree 2, 2009.
The taxpayer and the people of Fiji are entitled to the truth about these pays. 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.
Anything short of it would tantamount to stealing from the public purse.
Bainimarama and Khaiyum must come clean and disclose their full salaries and benefits to the people of Fiji, something they have refused to do despite repeated calls. Why are they not disclosing their salaries, if there is nothing to hide?
The regime has insisted on accountability and transparency when it came to the financial affairs of political parties and their leaders. Yet their own incomes, paid from taxpayers money, are being kept secret from the nation.
Political parties have complied under the requirements of Decree 4 of 2013. UFDF leaders now call on Bainimarama, Sayed-Khaiyum and the other Cabinet ministers to make public their financials – including all properties acquired since 2006, donations received in cash or kind, commissions paid either here or abroad in similar detail as required of political leaders, their spouses and children.
This must be done immediately in the interest of fair play, transparency and accountability. The Code of Conduct must apply equally to everyone – more so to those who hold high public office.
If these two and their cohorts in Cabinet don’t divulge, then the truth becomes obvious!