Solomons courts revoke MPs tax free salaries
Anti-corruption groups and the general public in Solomon Islands are celebrating a High Court ruling which has reversed controversial regulations that awarded parliamentarians tax free salaries in April last year.
Anti-corruption groups in Solomon Islands are celebrating a High Court ruling which has reversed controversial regulations that awarded parliamentarians tax free salaries in April last year.
In delivering the ruling, Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer, said more than 10 of the regulations introduced last year by the parliamentary entitlements commission were unconstitutional and have been declared null and void.
The regulations brought in a series of awards for MPs, including making their salaries tax-free and relaxing conditions that qualified MPs for pensions.
One of the claimants in the case was the executive officer of Transparency Solomon Islands, Ruth Liloqula.
She spoke with Koroi Hawkins about the ruling.
RUTH LILOQULA: It means justice for the people of Solomon Islands, tax-payers, children, men and women.
KOROI HAWKINS: And the conditions on it if you can go through some of the main points in it? What exactly does it reverse or change?
RL: Well what the judgement has done is declare null and unconstitutional most of the awards with the exception of their lunch meals during parliamentary meetings. So the tax-free salaries all of that has been reversed. Yeah tax-free salaries have been declared as null and void.
KH: What was the premise of this case? Why did you put it together and what was the reasoning for it?
RL: Well we put it together because in our view there was public outcry about this salary awards when it was put in public space by Transparency and then I think our contention is that it did not comply with requirements of the constitution.
KH: And now with this now judgement passed, when does this go into effect and does it affect awards and salaries paid under the entitlements that were given?
RL: Each year I think if I can say that each year the PEC meets and makes awards in terms of entitlements to the MPs. And then when it comes to another year they make an amendment to that, now there have not been any amendment this year to most of those clauses, so hem null and void na ia, bae oketa no includim go insaet lo oketa regulation any more.[So it is null and void and they will not be included in the regulation anymore.] That is my understanding of it and it becomes effective straight away.
KH: How has it been received by the public and the rest of the country?
RL: I think the final thing is that PEC as a body that is charged with making regulations for the entitlement for the members of parliament. Need to have regard for what the requirement of the constitution is for and such information as supplied to them. And those very important ones now are the state of the national economy and the financial position of the government, movement in the level of pay and or entitlements admissible to persons in employment and changes in the retail price. Most of which olketa ia, [these people ie the PEC commission] although the central bank has given them advice on that they have not taken that into any consideration at all when they made the awards. That is the requirement by the constitution, those are the things that you need to take into account.
KH: Right any response from the MPs or from government?
RL: Government has not made any response but the leader of the Independents honourable Derek Sikua has welcomed the court decision.
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