Opinion

A 10% Pay Cut By Ministers, Permanent Secretaries And Heads Of Statutory Organisations Would Show Leadership To The Nation

CEOs and top managers of companies could also consider similar moves to protect jobs and businesses as coronavirus hits our economy and our people
16 Mar 2020 09:44
A 10% Pay Cut By Ministers, Permanent Secretaries And Heads Of Statutory Organisations Would Show Leadership To The Nation

Opinion:

A 10 per cent pay cut for Government ministers and permanent secretaries would be a wonderful gesture to help cushion the economic impact of coronavirus

That would help spearhead a mini-budget that Government will unveil on March 26.

We live in abnormal times and as coronavirus pandemic continues, sacrifices would have to be made to enable us to ride through this economic storm.

We cannot afford to carry on as we used to.

What better way to launch a proactive response than a Government-led initiative that will inspire people.

A pay cut will resonate well with the people and reap benefits later economically and politically for the FijiFirst Government.

It will add weight to any austerity or stimulus package.

We can look at some overseas experience as an example.
Singapore structure

Singapore, who we look to as an economic model, raised eyebrows when its President, Cabinet ministers and political office holders, in an unprecedented move, decided to take a one-month pay cut in solidarity with its people.

The money saved would go to public officers, mostly health care workers, manning the frontline against coronavirus, as extra bonuses.

Other public officers who had contributed significantly would also be recognised.

Some may argue that we cannot compare ourselves with Singapore but any comparison is relative.

The Singapore salary structure is based on its economy in the same way as the Fijian pay scale is worked out on the local conditions.

Singapore Prime Minister earns US$812,858 (FJ$1,827,304.78), chief political executives get US$168,291 (FJ$378,318.17), Senior civil servants receive US$292,714 (FJ$ 658,021.07).

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (including iTaukei Affairs and Sugar) earns $328,750 in salary and allowances.

The Attorney General and Minister for Economy (including Civil Service, Aviation, Public Enterprises, Climate Change) gets $235,000 in salary and allowances.

Those on $200,000 include the Minister for Health and Minister for Education. Other ministers get $185,000 each and the assistant ministers receive $90,000 each.

The Speaker earns $150,000 a year and the Leader of the Opposition receives $120,000.

Other members of Parliament get $50,000 a year plus sitting allowances at Standing Committee meetings.

Permanent secretaries earn between $180,000 and more than $220,000

Many governments around the world have come up with revised budgets in response to the impact of coronavirus globally.

Employers, both in the public and private sector, have had to take drastic measures to weather the economic storm.

Among the measures include:

  • A freeze on new hiring
  • Pay cut to save jobs
  • Furlough – a temporary and mandatory time off work for employees without pay – in other words leave without pay
  • Layoffs to cut expenditure

We live in abnormal times so there should be a measured response to the deepening impact of the economic crisis.
Last Resort

The last resort for employers is laying off employees to keep the operation sustainable financially. When the situation improves then employees can be recalled.

No one wants to go down that road but if the reality of the situation warrants it then there is no choice.

That’s why a pay cut, starting from those at the top, could ease the situation.

Air New Zealand’s chief executive officer Greg Foran has taken a pay cut of about NZ$250,000 a year to help the airline keep flying.

The airline has frozen all hiring for non-critical roles and offered employees the option to take unpaid leave. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has volunteered that he will take no salary while the executive management team will take a 30 per cent pay cut for the rest of the financial year ending June 30 2020.

In Fiji, if the crisis persists the pay cut can be extended to second and third tiers and eventually across the board in the civil service.

The 10 per cent pay cut is fair because the more you earn, the more you give up.

  • The writer and other senior editors and managers of the Fiji Sun took a voluntary 10 per cent pay cut in November during the economic slowdown. The pay cut remains. It is helping to protect the jobs of other staff.

Feedbacknemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper