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FNPF ‘Is Not Pay’

A heated exchange broke out in Parliament yesterday when Mr Prasad had accused the Government of lying that he had purportedly proposed and advocated for a deduction in civil servants salary, when he did not.
31 Aug 2022 15:49
FNPF ‘Is Not Pay’
From (R)- National Federation Party Leader Biman Prasad. (M)- Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. (L)- Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete.

National Federation Party Leader Biman Prasad yes­terday told Parliament that reducing the Fiji National Provi­dent Fund contributions from civil servants was similar to giving them a pay cut.

He made the comments while de­bating the motion of the Consoli­dated Review Report of the Reserve Bank of Fiji 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 Annual Reports.

However, in an opinion piece pub­lished in The Fiji Times dated Sat­urday, March 21, 2020 Mr Prasad wrote: “Employers’ tax payment and FNPF deduction obligations should be suspended, as long as they can show that money is being paid to suspended or temporarily redundant employees.

 

A heated exchange broke out in Parliament yesterday when Mr Prasad had accused the Government of lying that he had purportedly proposed and advocated for a deduction in civil servants salary, when he did not.

“They lied on the other side of the Government that I was proposing a salary cut for civil servants. They lied,” Mr Prasad argued.

“This is a country that during a crisis made workers of this country withdraw their FNPF, civil servants took a pay cut because they had a reduction in their FNPF contributions because the FNPF is a part of their salary.”

Mr Prasad claimed that when the pandemic hit, the country did not have the budgetary space to deal with the massive issue of loss of income through loss of employment and incomes generally.

 

A-G’s Response

While responding to the claims made by Mr Prasad, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the level of desperation evident in Mr Prasad’s change of tune was mind-boggling.

“Honourable Prasad is getting out of control. I think Honourable Prasad he’s getting a lot of feedback from the ground where he has realised that they are not making any traction.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “By definition, a pay cut means your base salary which is your pay then you have other terms and conditions that are attached to your base salary. The pay for our civil servants were not cut at all, he is talking about FNPF contributions and that is not pay. That is a FNPF contribution and not a cut in pay. There was no pay cut.”

 

He also referred to the opinion article published in The Fiji Times for evidence of what Mr Prasad had proposed.

“On that article, he said that people should get a pay cut for civil servants now he’s saying that he never said that. He’s openly denying something that he said.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was the level of desperation coming from the Member of Parliament.

 

“This is why he’s trying to pick out all these sorts of things, you know! Making all these stories picking it up from here and there but unfortunately for him, the voters are a lot smarter and a lot more intelligent.”

“And obviously the government is very much focused on delivering services and making sure economic stability, social stability, law and order is being maintained.”

 

Dr Ifereimi’s Response

While raising point of order during the debate the Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete lashed out at the NFP leader and labelled him a liar for claiming to have not proposed a civil servants pay cut.

“Mr Speaker Sir, he is misleading Parliament: it was on the website of NFP that NFP had proposed a 35 per cent of civil servants. He is misleading Parliament, his party of which he is the leader proposed a pay cut for nurses, doctors, lab technicians and I had to fight tooth and nail to tell these civil servants that this government will never cut their pay,” he told Prasad.

 

FNPF Contributions

As of January, 2023, FNPF employer and employee contributions will increase from 12 per cent to 14 per cent. This will progressively increase.

 

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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