Fiji opposition calls for independent salary committee
The leader of Fiji's opposition National Federation Party is calling on the new government to revoke last week's salary setting Remuneration Decree and establish an independent committee to establish a fair pay scale for politicians.
Fiji's National Federation Party is calling on the new Fiji government to revoke the salary setting Remuneration Decree, gazetted just before the first sitting of Parliament last week.
The party also wants an independent committee set up to establish a fair pay scale for politicians.
The party's leader Biman Prasad told Jenny Meyer Members of Parliament should not have a hand in deciding what they should be paid.
BIMAN PRASAD: I think it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that there is transparency and accountability. You cannot just get a decree and say 'this is what the salaries and benefits of the Prime Minister, the Ministers and the Members of Parliament ought to be'. I can understand that they had to do it via decree because there was no Parliament, but now that it is there, I think that the appropriate thing for this government to do is to appoint immediately an independent committee so that within the next one or two months that committee is able to not only review what's there in the decree, but also use other benchmarks and other variables to arrive at a very, very appropriate and reasonable salary and benefits share for everyone involved in Fiji's Parliament.
JENNY MEYER: Who do you think might be on such an independent committee?
BP: There are examples of those kinds of committees in other jurisdictions, but you could have accountants, you could have independent community people, you could have judges, you could have a number of different kinds of people there. But I think if you look at the membership of the 2003 report, then you had a three member commission and these were made up of people who had served as Members of Parliament before; there was an accountant and there was a community member. So, I mean, you can find some very, very independent people who will have the knowledge and skills to determine the appropriateness of parliamentary privileges, salaries and benefits.
JM: So you'll be taking steps to try and bring this about will you?
BP: We will, but I would already call upon the government to do that and I hope that the government will do that without the opposition taking this matter to parliament, so I think that the ball is in the government's court to do that because that would be the appropriate thing to do at this point in time.
JM: Do you think it's a matter of they're just used to making decrees to get things done rather than negotiating and having everybody on board in that team environment?
BP: Well they need to make the transformation. We now have a parliamentary democracy and I can understand they might be used to some of those kinds of decision making, but we are now in a parliamentary democracy and I hope, and I do think, that those in the previous government who are now elected members of parliament and ministers and the Prime Minister himself would be able to transform themselves into real democrats and people who can engage in dialogue and discussion and observe all the principles of transparency and good governance in the interests of the people of this country.
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