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Practical, Realistic Approach To Allowance Increases

Analysis: A lot has been said in recent days about the increase in allowances for Members of Parliament. A more practical and realistic approach needs to be taken in this
07 Oct 2016 11:00
Practical, Realistic Approach To Allowance Increases
National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad

Analysis: A lot has been said in recent days about the increase in allowances for Members of Parliament.

A more practical and realistic approach needs to be taken in this matter. Fact is that this allowance does not mean that every Member of Parliament receives $200 per day.

This means that every time our Parliamentarians sit in various standing committees and select committees, they will be paid $200 per day.

Whether this will mean that $200 be paid for eight hours of sitting or up until the sitting ends for the day are still being decided and policy guidelines are being drafted in consultation with chairs of various Committees.

But, let’s not get emotional about this issue. It has to be dealt with practically. Our MPs who do sit on these committees do not sit for eight hours only. Some sittings go on till late into the evening.

Interestingly, the National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad, while delivering an impassionate Bollywood styled camera-ready speech in Parliament said he would not accept any increase in allowance should have, in the same breath, told those watching that he does not sit on any standing committees.

He sits only on the Business Committee – the Select Committee which sits for a day before Parliament sits to finalise the Order Paper.

His silence on health and travel insurance is deafening but perhaps he can afford a personal insurance if he travels on Parliamentary business.

The allowance increase is just part of what the Emolument Committee had proposed.

Previously, when our MPs travelled overseas, they did not have any form of travel or health insurance. This is worrying. Anyone who has worked for an organisation like the UNDP would know that even their most junior staff member does not travel overseas without insurance.

Even those who travel for holidays get insurance prior to their travels. How can we expect our MPs to travel overseas without any form of insurance?

And, a more realistic accommodation allowance needs to be set for MPs who travel overseas. The current $350 that has been agreed to while it is feasible for local stay, it is not possible for overseas travels.

While it is a fact that our MPs have been voted into Parliament to serve the people, it does not mean that their welfare gets pushed to the back burner.

Edited by Maraia Vula

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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