Solomons commission wants tax free public service
The Chairman of Solomon Islands Parliamentary Entitlements Commission which controversially removed taxes from MPs salaries this month says he wants taxes removed for all public servants.
The Chairman of the Solomon Islands Parliamentary Entitlements Commission which controversially removed taxes from MPs salaries this month says he wants taxes removed for all public servants.
Johnson Siapu says high living costs and the unique financial and cultural expectations Solomons' constituents have of their MPs, motivated the Commission's changes.
He told Koroi Hawkins he will be advocating strongly for the commission and other relevant bodies to follow his body's lead and increase salaries and benefits for Solomon Islanders in both the public and private sector.
JOHNSON SIAPU: In the past they were not taxed with all other allowances and other benefits. But in this instance in 2015, we in the commission awarded a tax free for salaries. Now this particular decision came out after a long research into members of parliament salaries since 2013 and 14. We discovered that the salaries of members of parliament is too low and because of that we have to look at ways of increasing the salaries. Now according to the constitution we cannot award an increase outside of the public servants awards. And to do this lawfully, MP's will always be worse off in relation to current inflation rates. So for the members of parliament the commission had to consider the tax part of it so that they are tax free in their salaries as well. That is where the decision came for in that one.
KOROI HAWKINS: For the average Solomon Islander, I would have to ask, is it fair on the public and how do you think they will perceive these benefits for MPs?
JS: I do not have any immediate answers to that, unless there are any research work done by experts who could provide that to us. But at the moment what we have done is for members of parliament that we are looking at.
KH: Do you feel that maybe this should also be extended to Solomon Islanders ...increase in wages for the cost of living in the country? You are doing a good job for MPs but do you feel that other responsible commissions, authorities who deal with the minimum wage and that should also increase salaries or benefits for Solomon Islanders?
JS: I believe that, that is probably the way to go because like I said earlier on I am interested in meeting with other commissions to look at what would be the best way of approaching these things for the future of this country.
KH: Would you then say, it would be fair to say, you would recommend that all public servants follow their leaders and MPs and also benefit from no tax on their salary?
JS: That could be a way forward for this country. We would like to look at having public servants also going into receiving no taxes and that is an issue that other, the responsible commissions have to work on to be able to look at how they can submit to the government. But we will definitely participate in any discussions going forward.
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