De facto increase

The National Assembly’s decision to increase the salaries of MPs has caused widespread public outrage. Rightfully so. Not one person has registered support for the pay increase in any of the online discussion forums, including this blog where, in my last entry, I had suggested that the pay increase could be illegal. Since then, I’ve been thinking about another matter that the Government will soon have to deal with.

After several ministers had argued that the salaries of MPs had to be increased, and increased to salary levels of Secretaries, one minister proposed to increase the salaries of Secretaries too. That minister then helpfully explained that the salaries for MPs would increase correspondingly to equal the new increased salaries of Secretaries.

And so the National Assembly resolved to increase the salaries of Government Secretaries too. But, who are the Government Secretaries entitled to this sudden raise? Are they only the ten Secretaries, one in each of the ten ministries? What if some of them are not currently in EX1A (i.e., Grade 1)? What about the Cabinet Secretary? And the Secretaries Generals of the National Council and National Assembly? The GNH Commission Secretary? The Land Commission Secretary? The Secretary to His Majesty? The head of the NEC (currently, still a “deputy minister”)? Will they, and others, also be entitled to the raise?

And what about all the other civil servants already in Grade 1 – the doctors, engineers, teachers and other bureaucrats? Will their salaries also be increased?

Original sin

How is it that the media – the press and television – reported that the proposal to increase the salaries of MPs originated in the National Council? The National Council session was broadcast on live TV, yet no one saw them discuss the salary increase. No one saw it, because it hadn’t been discussed in the National Council. In fact, a member of the National Council I met today claimed that the first time he heard about the pay increase was when the media reported that the National Assembly had approved it!