Opposition Leader, Ralph Regenvanu, says three deputy speakers of Parliament should not be granted salary increases at a time when Vanuatu is struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy.
Mr Regenvanu was responding to a request this week, from three deputy speakers of Parliament requesting an increase to their salaries, on the grounds they should be paid at the same scale as the First Deputy Speaker.
Edward Nalyal, a Second Deputy Speaker and the MP for Tafea Outer Islands; Assang Sannick, a Third Deputy Speaker and a Malekula MP; and Nakou Natuman, a Fourth Deputy Speaker and a Tanna MP, have written to the Speaker’s Office requesting an increase to their salaries.
But, the Opposition Leader says Vanuatu is not in its normal state and he is calling on the Government Remuneration Tribunal to make what he says is the “right decision” to refuse the salary increase request.
“Now is not the time to talk about an increase of salaries, because the whole of Vanuatu knows that we are going through a difficult time of a type that we have never faced before,” Mr Regenvanu said.
“I have asked the office of the Government Remuneration Tribunal to think before taking any decisions.
“I hope that the Government Remuneration Tribunal considers the stand it took in 2018. Then, they made a huge increase to the salaries of members and deputy speakers of Parliament and I hope they will make the right decision on this current request.”
The Office of the Speaker of Parliament has confirmed it has received the letter of request this week.
The Private Advisor to the Office of the Speaker, Francois Chani, says the deputy speakers have the right to make such requests but it is up to the Office of the Government Remuneration Tribunal to decide if their request will be granted.
He says at the end of the day; the Speakers Office must respect the decision of the Government Remuneration Tribunal.
Under the current annual salary levels for deputy speakers of Parliament, the First Deputy Speaker is entitled to VT5 million annually while the Second, Third and Fourth Deputy Speakers are entitled to VT1.8 million each.