DOUGLAS ETE – the MP for East Honiara and Chairman of the Public Accounts [PAC] – said he is against increasing basic salary and entitlements of MPs because the country cannot afford it.
By statute, Hon Ete as PAC Chairman, is a member of the committee that decides the terms and conditions of employment for Members of Parliament.
“I am against it because the PEC has not provided us figures on the proposed increases and why. I believe the Minister of Finance and Treasury also shares my view on this,” Hon Ete told Solomon Star on Thursday.
He said the matter was raised in a meeting at the Sir Paul Tovua Complex on 22nd December.
“I was there as a member of the PEC Committee that decides these matters. The PEC has failed to provide any figures to justify the increases they are proposing. Unless I have seen the figures that convince me, the proposed increases do not have my support,” the former Deputy Prime Minister said.
He said his position is based on the fact that the country for the first time had recorded the biggest budget deficit in history.
Hon Ete who is also the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee [PAC].
He said the 2023 Budget which Parliament passed last month showed a deficit of $1, 168 billion.
“While donors have come forward indicating their support, a large chunk of the deficit remains a deficit. In other words, we do not have the money to finance that huge hole in this year’s budget,” Mr. Ete said.
“I want the PEC to come up with the figures – figures that would convince me to give my support. As it stands, I am not giving my support,” he said.
The Parliament Entitlements Commission (PEC) has scheduled a meeting to discuss the matter next month.
That meeting will be held on Wednesday 15th February at the PEC Secretariat Board Room at the AJ City Plaza, Lunga starting at 10am.
The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has worked closely with the PEC on the proposal, according to email exchanges between a Malcolm Foufaka – an accountant at PMO – and PEC Secretary, Derek Vagi.
Both offices have been collaborating on the matter since August 23 last year, according to documents obtained by Solomon Star.
The PEC is proposing nearly 10 per cent increase across the board in basic salary and entitlements.
Once the February 15 meeting endorses the proposal, the new salaries and entitlements will be effective from 1st April this year.
By Alfred Sasako