Last week Fiji Democracy Now was puzzled by the decision to set salaries for Ministers and MPs in a decree the day before the parliament met. Wasn’t it an insult to the Parliament to have the salaries set by the two man band the very day the new orchestra was tuning up?
This is no hard puzzle if you look at the figures they laid down in the tablet of stone. The PM rakes in $328K, plus allowances that have no figures on them, while humble MPs are made very humble indeed on $50K. Allowing the humble backbench MPs to speak their own minds about the salary they were paid could obviously lead debate somewhere the duo did not want it to go. They might humbly suggest some comparisons.
Junior officers at the PIF Secretariat earn 27K SDR (Forum money) which equals about F$75K. An Assistant Lecturer at USP, at the bottom of the scale, is paid about $54,000.
The MP salaries make the MPs look like hired hands doing the unskilled job of pounding the rubber stamp on the draft laws prepared for them by the Cabinet. There is no recognition that even the humblest backbencher has been elected by the people, not hired like some day labourer by the PM.
He got away with it for now, but somewhere deep in the breasts of all his hired hands, there will be deep-seated resentment at the way they have been treated. It just doesn’t make sense to treat Parliament in this way. It has all the hallmarks of Khaiyum written all over it. Let’s hope the backbench MPs are able to make Bainimarama aware of just how insulting it is to them, and by extension, to the people who elected them, to have them paid as if they are just junior staff.