Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) provided a submission on the 2008 and 2009 Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations (PER) to the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission (PEC) on Tuesday last week followed by a verbal presentation on Friday.The PEC has begun meeting to review the 2008 and 2009 PER. The current review will be used to determine the 2010 PER to be effective as of 1st April.
In presenting the submission the TSI chair, Bob Pollard welcomed the opportunity and thanked the PEC for giving TSI a chance to present its views. TSI advised the PEC that people's trust and respect in their parliamentary leaders is at risk of being undermined if parliamentary entitlements are unreasonable and unaffordable.
In its submission, TSI highlighted the need for the process to be more transparent and accountable in determining the entitlements. In 2009 and in previous years, the PEC's review and amendment of the PER was conducted in private. There was no evidence of formal consultation. The public only knew about the PER amendment when it was gazetted.
TSI also called upon the PEC to review and revoke costly entitlements that are unaffordable. Specific entitlements of concern include Micro-Projects and Charities fund, Ex-gratia payment, Terminal grant, Prime Minister's entitlement upon retirement, the Education grant, the Appointment grant, Pensions for former members and spouses and the Overseas Subsistence Allowance.
TSI says that these entitlements have proved to be excessive and the basis for these entitlements has not been justified. For instance, the Ex-gratia payment was increased from $25,000 in 2008 to $100,000 in 2009 which is a 300% increase for no apparent good reason.
In addition, TSI again voiced that the PEC's composition needs to be truly and fully independent of parliament. Currently the PEC is dominated by current and former parliamentarians, a clear conflict of interest. TSI reminded the PEC that the National motto is "To Lead is To Serve" and this principle be upheld.
TSI acknowledges the PEC for inviting TSI to make the submission and taking note of the issues of concern in the submission. Full details of the TSI submission are available from the TSI office.