ANALYSIS: NFP makes a point
NFP recommended that an independent Emoluments Committee be set up to recommend appropriate increase.
Ask any successful businessperson about the importance of point of difference.
They’ll tell you it’s a critical factor in positioning their products to sell in a competitive market. Yesterday in Parliament the National Federation Party came up with a significant point of difference.
It voted against an increase in allowances for parliamentarians. NFP leader Biman Prasad and his currently lone colleague in the House Prem Singh were not only the only MPs who voted against the motion. They also turned down the increment which the members from the governing FijiFirst party and main opposition, Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), voted into force. The NFP’s opposition goes back to when the Emoluments Committee was established through a motion in Parliament on July 8, 2016. Mr Singh did not attend any meetings of the committee of parliamentarians despite being invited. This was noted in the Report on the review of allowances of Members of Parliament. Only the SODELPA and FijiFirst made submissions to the committee. The NFP in a letter dated August 11, 2016, said that it was “morally and ethically wrong for Parliament to prescribe its emoluments.”
They went on to say that historically, every Parliament in Fiji appointed an independent Emoluments Committee to determine salaries, perks and privileges of Parliament. Not a committee of parliamentarians. NFP recommended that an independent Emoluments Committee be set up to recommend appropriate increase. Even though the increase is only for allowances and not salaries, it is still an increase – in fact a big increase, as public reaction is showing.
Here are some examples:
Increases in allowances for accommodation and meals have also been approved from $150 per day to $350 per day for those living beyond 30 kilometres from the meeting venue and $30 per meal.
Committee sitting allowances for MPs including Assistant Ministers have also increased from $80 per day to $200 per day. For the two NFP members to say “No, thank you” to the increase is likely to win them points with the public, if reaction so far is anything to go by. Some saw this motion as an excellent opportunity for the 50 MPs to show the rest of the country that they are foregoing any increases to sympathise with the thousands of Fijians still reeling from the effects of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.
So the NFP has definitely established a point of difference from the other parliamentary parties. The interesting point now will be how much difference such actions make to NFP support in the countdown to 2018.
The NFP in a letter dated August 11, 2016, said that it was “morally and ethically wrong for Parliament to prescribe its emoluments.”
NFP leader Biman Prasad.