Tuesday, 21 July 2009 3:51 PM

Parliamentary Entitlements Commission

Dear editor I would also like to throw in a few lines in the discussions surrounding the action of the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission (PEC) to award Parliamentarian spouses a $50,000.00 terminal grant.

I think the discussion need not to stop just with this particular entitlement. I assume the public of Solomon Islands deserves to be properly informed on the other important changes the commission had made.

That is the intension here to outline other important changes that the commission had made so that the public will be able to make its own judgements.

If one looks at the 2009 amendments to the Parliamentary Entitlement Regulations. It would appear that the spousal entitlement is nothing compared to the significantly self serving entitlements that the commission has given Members of Parliament. On this premise I wish to bring to the attention of the readers the other important changes that were also included in the Members of Parliament (Entitlement) (Amendment) Regulations 2009. They included:

Reg. 9: Constituency Touring Allowance provides for the drawing of a sum not exceeding $150,000 per annum. Increase from $16,000.00 per annum.
Reg. 10(4): Relocation allowance of $200 increased to $300;
Reg.11C(1): Pension Scheme for members serving 8 years or more, increasing pension from 30% to 50% of salary;
Reg. 11C(2): Pension Scheme for member serving 12 years or more increasing pension from 40% to 60% of salary;
Reg. 11C(3): Pension Scheme increasing pension from 45% to 65% of salary;
Reg. 11C(4): Pension Scheme for member serving 16 years or more increasing pension from 50% to 70% of salary;
Reg. 11E(1): New regulation relating to Prime Minister provides for a 'Life Pension', rate of 60% of current salary, widow entitled to 40% of current salary even if remarried;
Reg. 11(6): New regulation: Prime Minister's pension paid out of Consolidated Fund, tax free and paid fortnightly;
Reg. 11(8): New regulation: As Prime Minister prefers govt to either (a) acquire reasonable land and construct reasonable house and pay for utilities or (b) if to reside in private residence, Prime Minister entitled to utilities and tax free monthly rental equivalent to a Minister.
Reg. 11(9): New regulation: On retirement, Prime Minister to be provided with official vehicle.
Reg. 11(10): New regulation: On retirement, Prime Minister entitled to medical treatments as prescribed for Members.
Reg. 11(11): New regulation: Prime Minister entitled to business class travel, subsistence allowance when undertaking assignments on behalf of SIG.
Reg. 13(1): Ex-Gratia now increased from $50,000 to $100,000;
Reg. 18(1): Ex-Gratia payment increased from $25,000 to $100,000 and payable for each consecutive term;
Reg. 18(2): Ex-Gratia payment payable at the end of each term of Parliament but now, only when Member not re-elected into Parliament. This means the amount will accumulate;
Reg. 35(7): New regulation giving Members of Standing Select and Special Select Committees subsistence allowance and rental supplementation as per reg. 10(4) and 35(2), when Committee in session.
Reg. 42(4): Payment of Government vehicle must be done within 30 days upon approval;
Reg. 42(7): Transport allowance for specific officers, increased from $3000 to $7000;
Reg. 42(8): Transport allowance for Member garaging vehicle, increased from $3000 to $6000;

I suppose to avoid such actions by PEC reoccurring again in the future, the public must demand Parliament for a Constitutional amendment to change the provisions on the formation of Parliamentary Entitlements Commission. In its current form PEC is not totally an independent body, thus for there be true independence and fairness granted to the whole process of Members salaries and Entitlements there needs to be a totally independent body put in place and entrusted with this responsibility.
I therefore would like to challenge you all current Members of Parliament to take this honourable action.

A lot of people would agree with me that the incumbent PM is so fond of saying in his various elegant speeches in Parliament the following lines "difficult times calls for difficult actions" I wander if he could live up to these words by taking a constitutional amendment to Parliament to rectify this problem ones and for all. God bless our beloved country.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Beliga Faikera and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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