16 February 2021

THE Government is believed to have or is considering cutting by half salaries of public servants undertaking in-service training at both the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Honiara and the Solomon Islands National University (SINU).

This is the latest move by the cash-strapped government to save costs.

According to sources, the number of students being affected could be as high as 100, although Solomon Star could not verify the actual figure.

Students have described the move as “disastrous” given that many have large families to look after as well their children’s needs including school fees.

They said the cut in salaries would be very difficult for many families to accept, given the fact that their housing and meal allowances have already been removed shortly after their awards were signed back in 2018.

“We’ve been told that our salaries would be slashed by half. This means that if you are getting $1, 000 a fortnight, you will now be getting just $500. How can we survive on this?

“We’ve been told that Cabinet has either approved it already or the proposal is going before Cabinet shortly. We hope the information is incorrect,” Solomon Star was told yesterday.

According to sources, the cut in salaries and allowances would apply only to students doing their in-service courses at the Solomon Islands Campus of USP in Honiara and at SINU.

“Those undertaking in-service courses in regional institutions would continue to receive their full entitlements. It is totally unfair,” the sources said.

It is understood that students undertaking in-service programs were entitled to a housing allowance of $19, 000 per student per semester as well as a meal allowance.

“Unfortunately, these allowances were removed after the students have signed their awards,” the sources said.

“The only explanation we were given at the time was students undertaking in-service training in campuses in Honiara did not need the allowances.”

The sources said it is time Members of Parliament (MP) begin sharing the costs, instead of relying almost solely on low paid workers to shoulder the burden.

Last week the government announced it has frozen public service recruitment this year to cut costs.

By Alfred Sasako
Newsroom, Honiara