SOLOMON Islands farewelled 2022 with a hefty pay raise for its 50 Members of Parliament.
The Parliamentary Entitlements Commission [PEC] – the legal body that regulates terms and conditions for Parliamentarians – is proposing increases in salaries and other parliamentary entitlements to be effective from April 1 next year, a PEC confidential document has revealed.
The PEC is now seeking stakeholders’ views for the increases of nearly 10 per cent to be applied across the board, according to a PEC letter dated 22nd December this year.
Solomon Star has obtained a copy of the letter. It suggests a consultation meeting on the matter be held in mid February next year.
“The Parliamentary Entitlements Commission sees it fit to have your views in this very important process of reviewing the Members of Parliament Entitlements Regulations (PER) and therefore wishes to invite a representative(s) from your orgranisation to attend a consultation meeting to be held as follows,” the letter headed, Re: Invitation to attend PEC Consultation Meeting, said.
Date: Wednesday 15th February 2023
Venue: PEC Office Conference Room (AJ City Mall RM42)
Basic salaries, clothing allowance, daily overseas travel allowance, annual appointment grants and education allowance, amongst others, would be substantially increased, according to the letter, ref: PEC01/3/1.
Under the proposal, salary levels have been divided into three categories, reflecting the seniority of each position.
The Prime Minister and his Deputy are in the first and second categories while Ministers, Leader of Opposition and the Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament make up the third group.
The increases will take Prime Minister’s new basic salary to $338, 000.24 a year – an increase of 9.7 per cent or $13, 000 net per fortnight on the current basic salary level;
Deputy Prime Minister’s new basic salary will be $304, 872.67 – which reflects a 9.7 per cent increase on the current basic salary;
New salaries for Ministers, Leader of Opposition and Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament have also gone up by 9.7 per cent. Each will now receive a basic salary of $266, 123.00 a year.
The Deputy Speaker, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Caucus and Chairperson of Parliamentary Standing Committees will also benefit from the proposed increases in basic salary increases. Each position will attract an annual basic salary of $241,166.24 – an increase of 9.7 per cent increase on the current basic salary level.
A new basic salary for Ordinary Members of Parliament – that is, those who do not hold official appointments – will be $218, 231.60 – an increase of 9.7 per cent on the current level.
But basic salary increases are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the increase in the raft of entitlements PEC is proposing.
The PEC is proposing increases in Clothing Allowance, Education Allowance, Appointment grants Overseas daily subsistence allowance, Daily local subsistence allowance, daily local hard touring allowance and Constituency Touring Allowance.
The Prime Minister, his Deputy, Ministers, Leader of Opposition and Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament would each receive USD7, 000 a year or about SBD56, 100.
Ordinary MPs would get USD3, 000 (SBD24, 000) a year in Clothing Allowance.
Education Allowance has now been increased to SBD25, 000 a year – an increase of $15, 000 a year over the current rate, according to the PEC proposal.
Appointment grants have been increased by SBD5, 000 to $15, 000 a year.
Overseas daily subsistence allowance has seen increases for the Prime Minister whose rate is now USD500 a day (about SBD4, 000). The Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and Leaders of the Opposition and the Independent Group would each get USD450 a day.
Ordinary MPs would get USD400 (about SBD3, 200) a day under the PEC proposal.
Increases have also been proposed for the Constituency Touring Allowance. All 50 Constituencies have been divided into three zones – Zone 1 gets $30, 000 a year, Zone 2 gets SBD31, 000 and Zone 3 will get SBD32, 000 a year. The Constituency touring allowance is intended for the MP to visit his or her Constituency three times a year.
This has not happened as MPs allegedly drew the money but never visited their Constituencies.
Meal Allowance as well as daily local subsistence allowance and Daily local hard touring allowance have been increased.
PEC is proposing daily Meal allowance be increased to $500 from $200 and daily local subsistence allowance be increased to $650 from $300 and daily hardworking allowance be increased by 100 per cent to $600.
The PEC document said the proposed increases in basic salary, appointment grants, Clothing allowance, daily overseas subsistence allowance, daily local subsistence allowance, daily hard touring allowance and meal allowance are based on the Chief Justice’s current entitlement.
Solomon Star sought a comment from the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission yesterday but its calls went unanswered.
An email sent earlier sought confirmation that the current PEC Board is still active but there was no response.
By Alfred Sasako