Sunday, 25 October 2009 8:02 PM

$50,000 Grant Quashed

Dear Editor, I would be grateful if you could publish this article.

I have read and welcomed the recent high court decision to quash the Parliamentary Entitlement Commission (PEC) resolution to award a controversial $50,000 to spouses of members of Parliament.

In his ruling, Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer has declared that the Commission acted beyond its constitutional powers by awarding the spouse terminal grant of $50,000.

The question that is bordering me is; does this also apply to the Tax-free gratuity of $400,000 per MP when he or she exits parliament? And the lifetime retirement package for prime ministers including former ones?

I also understand that awards of pension for parliamentarians were awarded based on serving more than two conservative terms in Parliament. However PEC also submitted award of life time pension to first time serving members of parliament.These were also PEC awards made along with the $50,000 spouse's award.

I did not see it in the Prime Minister's briefing to media nor were these other proposed entitlements mentioned as part of the high court's ruling.

If these additional entitlements (gratuity & life time pensions) are not scraped then we Solomon Islanders are left to foot an even larger bill from a Government, inclusive of opposition members; that has not made any gains as far as financial prosperity is concerned for our country. A realistic or sounder based prerequisite for awarding such entitlements.

Members of parliament are well paid on the job with excessive benefits (house, vehicle & driver, gas, electricity, telephone, rent, holiday entitlements etc) and I don't see why they should get a bigger piece of the cake (six months pudding) after their little stints in parliament?

I quote from Sir Albert's ruling "also declared that the PEC Commission acted beyond its constitutional powers by making the PER 2009 to commence retrospectively from 1st April 2009" end of quote. Is this inclusive of the above said awards?

If these excessively high awards (gratuity & life time pensions) are still going to flow to the pockets of parliament members, I call upon fellow decent and law-abiding citizens of Solomon Islands to make more noise and get a ruling on this. The public outburst so far has been extraordinary and I call again for all of us to stand up for our rights and those of our voiceless (particularly the children and disabled) and of generations to come.

I also wish to make note that the PEC awards on pension for parliamentarians are separate from ordinary long service pensions for public servants; the real back breaking public servants get peanuts. I can understand long service individuals getting pensions.

However the excessively high pension awards for parliamentarians, I can't comprehend or come to understand, more so when our nation can't afford it. Pensions are intended to recognize long and dedicated service; meaning someone did his or her time of service out of the ordinary with land mark evidence of work commitments visible or systematically established.

Can someone verify if the awards (gratuity & life time pensions) that were part of the recent PEC awards inclusive of spouse awards were quashed altogether?

Luk osem media haf report nomoa lo stori ia!

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

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