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COVID-19 Response Budget: 20% Pay Cut for Ministers And All MPs

While announcing this last night, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said there would not be any cuts for civil servants.
27 Mar 2020 09:28
COVID-19 Response Budget: 20% Pay Cut for Ministers And All MPs
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Minister of Economy and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum after the 20192020 budget announcement in Parliament on 7, June 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Government Ministers and Members of Parliament have taken a 20 per cent pay cut for the next six months.

This step was taken as Fiji prepares to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While announcing this last night, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said there would not be any cuts for civil servants.

“I’m proud we’ve delivered this budget only one short week after the COVID-19 hit Fiji. By contrast the United States’ only just passed their own economic stimulus more than two months after their first case in January.

“But times like these call for more than flexible policies and billion-dollar stimulus packages –– they call for leadership –– not with words, but with deeds.

“That’s why all elected officials, the Prime Minister, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and all Members of Parliament will have their pay cut or pay suspended, I should say by 20 per cent for the next six months. The cost savings for this move add up to around $400,000 –– an amount that may not seem monumental, but more importantly, shows that we lead from the front, and that everyone must share the burden.

“Because the reality is, in the coming months, many ordinary Fijians may see their hours and pay cut as well. And we, as elected members, must be the first.”

A-G to business leaders: Follow suit

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also urged business leaders to follow suit.

“I urge business leaders across Fiji to show solidarity with the working people of this country. Your legacies as leaders in your industries will be defined by your actions today.

“Do not wait to make strategic moves and structural changes to position your businesses for the long haul. And –– empowered by his historic stimulus package –– do everything you can to look after those who look to you for their employment.

“Meanwhile, for the time being, we won’t be mandating salary cuts across the civil service, nor our statutory bodies or Government-owned companies. The rippling socioeconomic effects of even a 10 per cent cut within our nation’s single largest employer –– which would amount to over $150 million –– would be far-reaching, so we must display prudence when considering this type of action.

Helping the basic income-earner

“Across Fiji, it’s common to see two, three, or more generations sharing a home, often with their aunties, uncles, and cousins as well. So a broad-based cut to the pay of our civil service, statutory bodies and government-owned companies would be a painful burden shared by many of those already-suffering, such as hospitality workers –– or employees from other highly-impacted industries –– who may share a roof with or is related to a Government employee.

“And in those cases, these workers may very well shift to the primary breadwinner, or even the sole income-earner in the home. So, for now, we’ll be keeping money circulating in our economy by keeping salaries where they currently stand across government entities.

“That’s why all elected officials, the Prime Minister, Ministers, Assistant Ministers and all Members of Parliament will have their pay cut by 20 per cent for the next six months. The cost savings for this move add up to around $400,000 dollars –– an amount that may not seem monumental, but more importantly, shows that we lead from the front, and that everyone must share the burden. Because the reality is, in the coming months, many ordinary Fijians may see their hours and pay cut as well. And we, as elected members, must be the first.”

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