8 Jun 2007

Cooks MPs give themselves big pay rise

10:16 am on 8 June 2007

The Cook Islands government has been criticised over the pay increase backdated to last July that members of parliament have given themselves.

The increase sees an MP's base salary jump from 26,000 US dollars to 36,000 dollars while the Prime Minister's salary jumps from 56,000 US dollars to 79,000.

It follows an amendment in March to legislation governing the Remuneration Tribunal giving the Minister of Finance and cabinet the final say in setting MPs' pay packages.

But Elizabeth Ponga of the Group for Political Change says the increase is staggering given MPs poor record of working hours.

"In order get paid, you have to earn it. You have to deliver the number of hours according to the payment you're going to get. There was nothing more than twenty days per annum - then at the time, you're looking at only half days, which is 1pm to 5pm. So everybody knew that this was happening and that's why we question, is there a need for them to have a pay increase?"