ANAL­Y­SIS: NFP makes a point

NFP rec­om­mended that an in­de­pen­dent Emol­u­ments Com­mit­tee be set up to rec­om­mend ap­pro­pri­ate in­crease.

Fiji Sun - - Fiji Today - Rosi Do­viver­ata

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.”

Photo: Vil­imoni Va­ganalau

NFP leader Bi­man Prasad.

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