Fiji PM Sitiveni Rabuka Reassures Public Amidst Parliamentary Pay Vote Debate

In a move to address growing public concern, Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka addressed the nation, by promising transparency and public involvement in the upcoming legislative process to amend the Parliamentary Remunerations Act 2014.

His statement, issued this evening, follows a contentious parliamentary vote, last week, approving significant salary increases for various political officeholders, which has sparked considerable public debate and internal party conflicts.

“I want to assure the nation that I am listening to your views aired since the motion was passed in Parliament,” Rabuka stated.

A bill, he stated, would be drafted by the Solicitor General’s Office, and it would undergo public consultations and independent review before being presented to the Cabinet and Parliament.

 “Members of the public can have their say on the Bill once it is ready and released for consultation. Therefore, I encourage the public to be objective in their assessment,” he said.

Rabuka also acknowledged the complexity of the issue, noting that funding availability would be a critical factor in the Cabinet’s considerations before the bill’s presentation to Parliament. He also highlighted the importance of maintaining democratic processes, allowing media freedom and public commentary on the issue.

“This is democracy in action, where members of the public have their say and media report freely.”

Opposition’s Response and Internal Strife

The statement by the head of the Fiji 3-party Coalition Government comes amid a heated political atmosphere.

Opposition Leader Inia Seruiratu reassured the public of the opposition MPs’ commitment to their duties, despite the potential disciplinary actions from the FijiFirst party.

This follows the party President Ratu Joji Satakala’s stern warning to 16 MPs, including Seruiratu, who allegedly defied party directives by supporting the Emoluments Committee’s recommendations for salary increases.

Proposals and Reactions

The Emoluments Committee’s report, which triggered this latest political debate, recommends substantial increases in salaries for political officeholders, including the President, Prime Minister, Ministers, and Members of Parliament.

The recommendations were based on independent consultations and aimed at aligning salaries with the responsibilities of each position.

Despite these justifications, the proposal has faced mixed reactions including from the public.

FijiFirst suggested standardising cabinet ministers’ salaries at $200,000 while doubling MPs’ salaries to $100,000. The National Federation Party (NFP), on the other hand, proposed a 30% salary reduction for the Prime Minister and Cabinet, accompanied by reduced travel allowances which will be offset by the increased parliamentary emoluments.

Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance party recommended specific salary increases for the President and Deputy Prime Ministers while maintaining other salaries but including additional benefits like medical insurance.

The report which was tabled in the recent parliamentary sitting was put to a vote on Friday May 24 which saw 40 MPs voting in favour, seven against, three chose not to vote and five abstained.

Controversy and Coalition Dynamics

The controversy deepened today with accusations from Lynda Tabuya, Minister for Women, Children, and Social Protection, against NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad.

Tabuya’s allegations have been deemed defamatory by NFP who intend to address the matter with the People’s Alliance party.

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