Are Our MPs, Not Members of Cabinet, Being Paid Enough to Effectively Carry Out Their Work?
In 2017 the Goverment moved a motion to address this issue and allowances were increased when both sides of the House voted in favour
The investigation into the conduct of nine Members of Parliament over allowance claims has raised the question: Are our MPs paid enough?
Since eight of the nine MPs are from Opposition SODELPA, it’s interesting to note that historically the party has raised this issue before,
In a submission to the Parliament Emoluments Standing Committee in one of its recommendations, the party suggested that the bacbenchers salary be raised from $50,000 a year to $70,000 to enable MPs to meet their commitments and carry out their responsibilities more effectively. That was rejected by the committee in its final report to Parliament.
Many of these MPs wish they could get into these parliamentary standing committees to earn extra money to supplement their basic salary.
It is general knowledge that they are always jockeying for spots on the committee which is usually staffed by two Opposition and three Government members.
In the current investigations conducted by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption about alleged false claims one of the contentious issues is the MPs’ listed address of their permanent residence.
If we are looking at the intention of the legislature in terms of the need for MPs to stay in a place where bed and breakfast or hotels is mandated, the Fiji Remuneration Act 2014 is silent. All it says is permanent residence of 30km and more can claim transport and lodge allowance when coming to meetings.
It doesn’t even say you can’t come down at beginning of the week and go back close of business Friday. It’s all silent.
Following the last parliamentary sitting of July 8, 2016, Parliament made an unanimous decision to review the remuneration and allowances of all members of Parliament.
In its submission said one crucial aspect that required serious consideration under this exercise was the one constituency electoral system that had been adopted following the 2014 national elections.
“This requires parliamentarians to serve the whole country unlike the previous set up which saw parliamentarians demarcated to certain constituencies,” it said.
The past arrangements were affordable in terms of costs for the relevant MP’s for their constituency work, making it at least practicable for MP’s in terms of service delivery to the electorate, subsequently setting the platform for possible re-election pending their effectiveness.
Just as is expected in any professional environment, a sustainability of employment for at least a marked number of years ensures trust by individuals standing for national duties, that they are able to recover the high cost of their individual campaigns during their term in service.
Under the new system of a common constituent, the ability of parliamentarians become a disadvantage to those on the lower salary scale as it limits their ability to travel the breadth of Fiji.
This new arrangement unfortunately at present, is not supported by the current remuneration system which fails to reflect the demands and necessary ethos this particular level of service delivery will require.
In previous Parliaments,
Constituency Allowance is provided to all members of the House of Representatives to cover expenses incurred in travelling on constituency business; payable half monthly with the member’s salary and the need not to be supported by actual receipts. “The role of the Legislature in any democracy is crucial. Laws of any land determine how well a nation flourishes and these need to be the basis upon which the legislature is also acknowledged and provided with necessary support to fulfil its role.
“Likewise, consistency of legislatures are appreciated the world over for at least two terms, just like the election of governments, as this allow the proper fulfilling and carrying out of development plans and its scrutiny and understanding as well.”
It said proper remuneration of MPs would prevent abuse and corruption.
Nemani Delaibatiki This is the first of a threepart series that looks at parliamentary emoluments