Wednesday, 12 August 2009 4:46 PM

Call to scrap increase on MPs' entitlements

As an ordinary Solomon Island citizen, and tax-payer for the past 20 or so odd years, I applaud calls made by Transparency Solomon Islands, the Solomon Islands Council of Trade Unions, and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the Government to seriously consider scrapping the recent increase in MPs' entitlements. I think the best way forward on this issue, as had been suggested by TSI, is the establishment of an independent body to review and oversee MPs' entitlements in the future.

No one disputes the legibility of MPs to be accorded some form of remuneration at the end of their term, as long as such payments are fair and justifiable, as many contributors to this topic have already expressed. The revelation made by the Chairman of TSI that the Government would spend $150 million dollars per life of parliament (without the increase), and almost $200 million per life of parliament (should the recent increase be gazetted) on MP entitlements alone, justifies the call for a review to be carried on our MPs' entitlements. The basic questions that came to mind when I saw these figures are: Does our country have the financial capacity to pay such huge amounts of money to our MPs given the current low economic status of our country? What are the justifications for spending such huge amounts of money on MPs' entitlements alone? How would the people of Solomon Islands benefit if MPs are paid those millions of dollars?

In my humble view, spending such huge amounts of tax-payer's money on 50 individuals (MPs) alone is unconceivable given the current low economic status of our country, plus the generally poor condition of basic social services in our country. The recommended increase on parliamentarians' entitlements would be a slap on the face of ordinary Solomon Islanders who have struggled tirelessly to make ends meet, day in and day out. Hence, I support the sentiments shared by many through the media that the Government should strive to increase its expenditure on basic social services that would serve the needs of the majority of the population, rather than increasing the entitlements of a few individuals (MPs). Our MPs are already enjoying a very high salary package, as well as other luxuries attached to being a politician. Where is the justice in all these to ordinary Solomon Islanders?

It is important for our MPs to realise that they are in Parliament to serve the interest of the people whom they represent. I believe the MPs know this too well. The very people who voted them into Parliament are now voicing their concerns against any increase on their entitlements. The most honourable thing our MPs' should do is to put the interest of the people they represent first, rather than manipulating the system for their own benefits. The people of the nation have spoken through their representatives (TSI, SICTU & SICCI); it would be futile for the country if their voices are not heard!

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

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