MP pay hike slammed by Prof Ratuva

May 27, 2024 12:45 pm

Political Sociologist Professor Steven Ratuva has described the increase in salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament as unethical.

He criticized the process, noting that in countries like Australia and New Zealand, the determination of parliamentary salaries is done by an independent body established by the State.

He highlights that in Fiji, the Emoluments Committee endorses recommendations made by a particular consultant, which he finds problematic.

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Political Sociologist Professor Steven Ratuva

Prof Ratuva emphasizes that while the UNDP can conduct training and governance projects with Parliament, determining the salaries and allowances of MPs is a sovereign issue.

He questioned whether the consultant performed this work as part of their duties with the UNDP, which would be an ethical conflict of interest or as an independent consultant which would also be a conflict of interest due to their long-standing relationship with the Parliamentarians.

“The perception of independence, the perception of professionalism is very important here, what we have seen here is a lot of conflict of interest and the parliamentarians themselves are given the chance to endorse their own salary, that’s very unethical, there’s fraudulent.”

Prof Ratuva proposed that Parliament should pass an Act to establish a Remuneration Authority to determine the salaries of Parliamentarians, asserting that this is the appropriate method.

He argues that no political system claiming to be democratic and transparent should be involved in determining its own salaries.

The Fijian academic also points out the ethical implications, noting that Fiji is currently facing various issues such as drug trafficking and consumption, unemployment and poverty, which are affecting the economy and people’s well-being.

Prof Ratuva adds that while there is talk about the growth of tourism, there is a disproportionate focus on the corporate sector economy with insufficient attention to what is happening at the grassroots level.