Parliament has passed the Bill that would see to the setup of a new Higher Salaries Commission, allowing the Government to get the right calibre of people to lead state-owned enterprises.
The new Act will look to consider the pay disparities caused by the current practice between the senior executives and other staff members.
In Parliament, Attorney-General Siromi Turaga said that establishing the Higher Salaries Commission does not mean that the Government wants to reduce people’s salary.
Turaga said that the intention is to ensure that taxpayer’s money is not being wasted.
“Government will not deprive anyone of their rightful pay and the set-up of Higher Salaries Commission will conduct all necessary consultation needed to make the best decision, not only for top executives but also the Fijian taxpayers,” Turaga said.
The Attorney-General said the Act is to re-establish the Higher Salaries Commission and guide the determination of salaries of top executive positions of prescribed bodies.
Responding to the motion, Opposition Whip Alvick Maharaj said the establishment of the Higher Salaries Commission was very cumbersome, bureaucratic and time insensitive.
Maharaj said the process followed by the Commission in determining the remuneration of the senior positions, failed to obtain a proper independent assessment of these salaries by professionals who had the necessary expertise in making such analysis.
He added that there were more questions than answers and that Opposition MPs do not support the motion.
Also responding to the motion, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said it was important in a developing country like Fiji, surrounded and watched by developed countries that we maintain some rationale in the way we deal with senior executives, to recruit and correctly remunerate them when they come and do the work that is advertised.
Rabuka said the Higher Salaries Commission has the freedom to survey and research what people in similar position are getting in other jurisdictions and try to scale that to the economy of the country.
“That is all it is. It is not giving all CEOs in this sort of industry the same level of salaries applicable to the other jurisdictions around us,” said Rabuka.
The motion has been passed with 28 who voted yes, 23 voted no and 4 did not vote.