Small Malaita MP Rick Hou has written to the Clerk to Parliament to deduct tax from his salary.
In a letter to the Clerk, which the Sunday Star obtained, Hou said he took the decision to go in line with his recent comments in parliament, calling for a review of the tax-free salary award made to MPs.
“I wish to advise your office that in line with my position in parliament on the matter of amendment to Regulation 72 (1) (which makes salaries of MPs to be tax free), you will treat my salary as if there had been no such amendments,” Hou said in the letter.
“In other words, you are instructed that you should continue to deduct PAYE from my salary as before gazettal notice No. 40 of Thursday 2 April 2015,” he added.
Hou sent the letter on 4 May 2015.
The Small Malaita MP, who is Finance minister in the last government, and currently chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), is a member of the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission (PEC).
In the last parliament, he said:
“I agree with the public demand for a justification to these new awards. I personally think they are excessive, particularly the exemption from PAYE and the new pension entitlements.
“To that end Sir, I strongly recommend that these new awards be withheld immediately and since the PEC is under the Office of the Prime Minister, that the Commission should be directed by the Prime Minister to review these new entitlements, with the view to reduce or remove those new entitlements that are excessive with immediate effect”.
Hou has also clarified that although he was a member of PEC, he did not attend the particular meeting that decided on the recent awards to MPs.
He said he was on a constituency tour when PEC held the meeting and made the decision.
“If I were at this particular meeting, I would have stood my ground in opposing the MPs tax-free salary entitlement – a stand I took all along,” Hou said.
He said the action he took to write to the Clerk of Parliament to continue deducting tax from his salaries was a demonstration of his genuineness and true conviction on this issue.
Hou said it is only wise to take the unprecedented path, ensuring that he pays PAYE tax just as anyone in this country.
By CHARLES KADAMANA