Opposition MP Premila Kumar raised concerns about the ethics of having members of parliament review salaries and benefits.
Leader of Government in Parliament Lynda Tabuya proposed a motion for the Committee, consisting of MPs, to assess the salaries, allowances, and benefits of MPs, the President, and the Speaker, as outlined in the Parliamentary Remunerations Act 2014, and to review the Parliamentary Retirement Allowances Act 1989.
During her contribution to the debate, Kumar emphasised that reviewing the salaries and allowances of MPs is a delicate matter that requires careful and ethical handling to avoid damaging public trust.
Opposition MP Premila Kumar.
Kumar suggests that parliamentarians should not have a direct role in determining their own salaries and benefits.
“There are international best practices used by parliaments around the world, and we must do the same to ensure the remuneration is fair, equitable, and free from political influence. The Emoluments Committee can play the role of a facilitator but is not directly involved in determining salaries and benefits, not even receiving submissions from political parties, as I’ve heard from the Chair of the Committee.”
Kumar says if Fiji lacks expertise or interest, then the Emoluments Committee, with the help of Parliament, can seek assistance from the development partners or from other Parliaments around the globe.
Leader of Government in Parliament Lynda Tabuya.
Tabuya says they took out the expression of interest twice, for an independent consultant, and terms of reference for the Emoluments Committee.
“We are in the process of securing one. And we are convening again next week to continue our work. Yes, we have also consulted our development partners, as suggested.”
Tabuya’s motion has been passed by parliament.