Much has been said and written in Solomon Islands news websites and the local media about the entitlements of Members of Parliament. Personally, I have contributed to the debate by writing to Solomon Star and National Express on the issue, expressing my personal opinions and views.
According to unconfirmed sources, there are rumours that the recent decision by the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission (PEC), the body that decides on the entitlements of Members of Parliament and thier immediate dependents, to give a terminal grant of SBD$50 000 to Members' spouses will now be annulled. This is unconfirmed rumour. However, if it does become reality then we must all be glad that our concerns have been taken into account. Hence, we must not give up but to keep fighting for fairness and for the sake the silent mass; our people who are suffering back in the rural areas, and whom succesive governments have deprived of the right of access to reliable social services and infrastructure development.
The Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations (PER), the document that outlines the Members' entitlements is a public documents. Once it is passed by PEC for enforcement by relevant authorities, the public has the right to view that document. However, little attention has been given to it by the media or the public at large. But once you have a read of it, you will realise that the entitlements in it for Members are outrageous. The National Parliament of Solomon Islands website is a good place to visit to gather reliable information about Solomon Islands Members of Parliament and to access a copy of the PER. You can follow the following link to do so: http://www.parliament.gov.sb/ and go to Members page (top of home page), and click on Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations (PER) 2008. Recent amendments to this document were made on 1st April 2009. However, the copy that is available at the above website, does not include those recent (2009) amendments but will give you an idea of how outrageous the Members entitlements are. Once, you have a look through it and have grasped the facts you will realise why becoming a Member of Parliament is so enticing. Just imagine how outrageous the current entitlments will be, given the inclusion of the recent amendments, which includes the terminal grant of SBD$50 000 for Members' spouses?
As responsible Solomon Islanders, we must raise our voices to show our disagreement on such irresponsible actions by our leaders and the manner in which our elected leaders are running our country, especially on the use of state funds. We must continue to pressurise them to make further reductions to their current entitlements. In the light of the current global economic down-turn we need responsible leadership and drasctic measures must be imposed to lessen the consequences of the crisis. Therefore, our leaders must now lead by example to fulfill our national motto: "To lead is to Serve" and not "to lead is to be served" or "self-service" kind of leadership. Instead of making increases to thier entitlements they should make reductions to prove to us that they are committed to lead our country in a transparent, accountable and responsible manner, even in times of crises.
Another national general election is coming up and I am not too surprised by the current move to allocate terminal grant for Members' spouses. It does not require a rocket scientist to figure out what that money is intended for; to lure voters and win and retain thier seats. It is a typical example of leaders putting thier personal interests, and in this case thier political ambitions, before matters of national importance, that is to control national expenditure.
Readers, I must confess that I have lost my confidence on our leaders . They no longer hold the trust and confidence of the people, befitting to be what they are now.