TAX payers will take care of the welfare and living expenses of the nation’s prime ministers when they retire.
This was stipulated in the Prime Minister’s (Pensions and Benefits) Bill 2014, which parliament passed on Thursday.
MPs from both sides of the house who spoke during the debate gave their overwhelming support to the bill, which proposes to provide pensions and other benefits for former prime ministers.
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo re-tabled the bill after he withdrew it from the floor of parliament in April last year.
Finance minister Rick Hou said there would be cost implications to the nation’s tax payers.
But he said there are safeguards in the bill – like if a former prime minister remains a member of parliament or engaged on other assignments with the government, he or she will not get the benefits.
Public Service minister Stanley Sofu said such benefits should also be extended to other constitutional post holders and public servants who served the government with dedication and commitment.
The bill stipulates that a former Prime Minister who has held the Office of the Prime Minister on or after the 7th of July 1978 will be paid a pension at an annual rate of 60% of the current salary payable to the incumbent.
But the pension payable shall cease to be paid during the time the person is re-elected and re-appointed to the Office of the Prime Minister or is appointed to a public office
The pension shall be restored when a prime minister ceases to hold any position in any public office.
Where a Prime Minister dies while he is the Prime Minister or while he is entitled to receive a pension, his spouse will be entitled to be paid that pension at an annual rate of 40% of the pension receivable by the pensioner at the time of his death.
However, the spouse will not be entitled to receive the pension if she or he remarries.
The pension payable will be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund and be paid fortnightly.
The pension payable cannot be assigned or transferred except for satisfying a debt due to the government or payment of spousal and child maintenance ordered by any court or any levy attached or requested thereto.
Other benefits include a one-off ex-gratia payment of $75,000, a residence free of rent and other utilities, a vehicle or an OBM powered boat or boat allowance, and medical treatment prescribed from time to time by the Members of Parliament (Entitlements) Commissions Regulations.
Mr Lilo yesterday said he was overwhelmed by the support from both the Government and the Opposition groups to the bill.
He said he re-tabled the bill after consultations with former prime ministers.
The prime minister said the bill was not for his personal interest but for the sake of those who served as prime ministers for the country.
– Parliament Media