NEWS

What A-G Said About Qarase Claim

This is the text of the answer provided by the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to a question by the Leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa in
21 May 2015 11:06
What A-G Said About Qarase Claim

This is the text of the answer provided by the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to a question by the Leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa in Parliament yesterday.

Question: Ro Teimumu Kepa to ask the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Public Enterprises, Public Service and Communications –Would the Minister explain why Mr Laisenia Qarase, former Prime Minister of Fiji, has not yet received the balance of his pension entitlements.

Answer

1. Before I answer this question it is important that I highlight the law with regards to the payment of an ex-Prime Minister’s Pension.

2. All ex-Prime Ministers of the Republic of Fiji have a right to a pension. Section 4 of the Prime Minister’s Pensions Act 1994 provides –

4. The Prime Minister’s Pension under this Act shall be payable in accordance with the following formula – (a) Where a Prime Minister has held office for not more than two years, 20 per cent of salary payable upon retirement;

(b) Where he has held office for more than two years-

(i) 20 per cent of salary payable in respect of the first two years;

(ii) Thereafter and additional 10 per cent for each succeeding year for three years; and

(iii) Where he has held that office for more than five years, for each completed year of service after the first five years, an additional 5 per cent of salary up to a maximum of 75 per cent salary.

3. An ex-Prime Minister is also entitled to other benefits as provided for under section 9 of the Act-

9 (1) The following additional benefits shall also apply to a person  in receipt of a pension under this Act until his demise provided that such a person had completed five years service:-

(i) Provision for the installation, connection, maintenance and rental of a telephone in any private residence of his, and to meet the cost of all charges in respect of local calls originating from such telephone;

(ii) Provision for a Ministerial-type vehicle and a driver, including free travel on scheduled trips of Government ships;

(iii) Medical treatment, hospitalisation, drugs and all other hospital services locally; Provided that where local specialist treatment and medical treatment overseas including the cost of treatment, accommodation and air travel are necessary, such expenditure may be incurred at the discretion of the Prime Minister

(iv) The provision of an annual budgetary allocation of an amount of $30,000 per annum and subject to periodic adjustments, to enable the person in receipt of a pension, to hire personal staff as required; and

(v) Provision of security protection at the discretion of the Prime Minister

 PAYMENT MADE TO LAISENIA QARASE

1. Contrary to the Hon member’s claim, the former Prime Minister, Mr Laisenia Qarase has received all the pension payments due to him. There is no outstanding balance owed.

2. The arrears from December 2006 amounting to $583,263.64 (including gratuity) was paid to him on 18th December 2014.

3. Furthermore, he is also receiving a fortnightly pension of $2443.78. This includes the 20 per cent increase that government granted to all pensioners for 2012 and another 20 per cent in 2015.

4. The latest fortnightly pension payment was done on 12th May 2015 totally $2443.78.

5. A summary of the computation of payments made to Mr Qarase is as follows:

Salary upon vacating the post of Prime Minister = $106967.00

Gratuity =$183949.50

(Calculation of Gratuity as below)

Full pension is 55 per cent of $106967.00 =$58831.85

Gratuity is ¾ of the full pension                                 =$44123.88

12.5 X ($58831.85 – $44123.88)                                    =$183849.50

(12.5 times related to gratuity calculation as per Pensions Act no 17 of 1983 Regulation 24 (1)

Arrears Paid

Pension from 6th December 2006 to 31 December 2014 = $382495.49

Gratuity (as per above)                 =$183849.50

Telephone and medical benefits               =$16918.65

Total arrears paid =$583263.64

Fortnightly pension  =$2443.78

(Break down of fortnightly pension calculations)

$44123.88 divide by 26 fortnights                                              =$1697.07

Plus 20 per cent increase in 2012                                               $339.41

$2036.48

Plus 20 per cent increase in 2015                                               $407.30

Fortnightly pension now                                                               $2443.78

OTHER BENEFITS CLAIMED BY LAISENIA QARASE

1. Mr Qarase has been paid what he is owed as provided for under the law and not single cent less

2. What the Honourable Member fails to mention is Mr Qarase is also claiming for the following under Other Benefits as outlined in section 9 of the Act.

3. The Other Benefits being claimed by Mr Qarase are:

(a) Reimbursement of telephone and medical expenses in the sum of $926.36 from 2013-2014;

(b) Cash Allowance in the sum of $245000 from 5 December 2006 – 5 February 2015; and

(c) Transport allowance in the sum of $392000 based on the assumed value of the use of Mr Qarase’s vehicle and the driver’s wages for the period from 5 December 2006-5 February 2015.

4. Accordingly, Mr Qarase has been advised with regards to his telephone and medical claims, the sum of $926.36 will be paid upon the provision of the relevant receipts.

5. With regards to the cash allowance claimed, section 9(1) (iv) of the Act allows for the provision of a budgetary allocation of $30000 per annum for the engagement of personal staff as required. It does not provide for the automatic payment of $30000 per annum without verification.

Mr Qarase has been advised that he must provide all details of the engagements of personal staff including the terms of reference for such staff and the amounts paid to the staff.

6. In relation to the claim for transport allowance, since the Act does not provide for monetary compensation in lieu of the provision of a ministerial type vehicle and a driver, Mr Qarase has been advised that his claim for transport be assessed by mileage claim and that he provide the necessary documentation for the type of vehicle used, the vehicle engine capacity and the calculated mileage from 6 December 2006.

Further, in relation to any salaries paid to the driver, that the necessary documentation pertaining to the driver’s engagement including wages and salaries also be provided.

7. It is prudent to note that to avoid audit queries and in the interest of transparency and good governance, anything that is claimed under Section9 of the Act (Other Benefits) must be supported by the relevant documents.

8. Once the relevant documents are received, the claims will be processed accordingly.

josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 




Subscribe to E-Edition
pacific island top up
Air Nuigini
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: