THE Parliamentary Entitlements Commission (PEC) is at it again.
As though they have not awarded enough yet to the Members of Parliament, this year PEC has given the MPs tax free salaries, life-time pension, and a 3.5% pay rise.
It was only two years ago that PEC increased MPs terminal grant from $100,000 to $400,000.
A year ago, MPs were also awarded increases to their entitlements.
Despite a huge public outcry, PEC simply refused to listen.
As of this month, MPs will no longer have taxes deducted from their salaries.
They also received a cool 3.5 per cent pay rise, which will be back-dated to April last year. And from this year onwards, they’ll be getting pay rises of 4 per cent a year.
Their discretionary fund was also increased from $300,000 to $500,000 a year.
This is happening while public servants, who have served the nation through thick and thin, have not been given a pay rise for ages.
And this is happening while the nation’s workers and businesses have been taxed to the bone.
Now where does PEC get all these outrageous awards from? Can it explain to the public why an MP should get a tax free salary?
The Constitution is clear on grounds which PEC should consider before making decisions to grant an award to the MPs.
Two of the fundamental considerations are the state of the national economy and the financial position of the government.
One does not have to be an economist to tell that the state of the national economy is precarious and the financial position of the government is poor.
It may have appeared that PEC simply ignored submissions other stakeholders have made when considering these entitlements.
This is not surprising because two members of PEC are none other than the Finance minister and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
In this instance, former Finance minister Rick Hou and former chairman of Public Accounts Committee Douglas Ete (now deputy prime minister), are part of the team that made these appalling awards.
How hypocritical our so-called leaders can become.
So are Solomon Islanders going to allow these latest awards to stand?
Where are the trade union and civil society leaders?
Are they too preoccupied to see these legalized “theft” the politicians are doing in front of our eyes?
How long are we going to stand and watch while the politicians filled their pockets with our hard-earned tax money?
There’s still an option for Solomon Islanders to challenge the awards and get the courts to throw them out the window.
We cannot allow these privileged few to enjoy the wealth of this nation while the majority continues to suffer.
It’s time to say enough is enough!