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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 10) – Members of the Papua New Guinea Parliament have awarded themselves a 100 percent increase in housing allowance – to be backdated to January 5 this year.

According to a parliamentarian, the lowest a member of parliament gets a month is PGK2,000 [US$700], which amounts to PGK24,000 [US$8,400] a year.

The 100 percent increase means the figure will double [to PGK 48,000 a year – US$16,800].

Parliament gave the nod on the voices when it endorsed the 31st Report of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission signed by chairman Jeffery Nape and tabled by Education Minister Michael Laimo yesterday. The SRC report, dated April 12, 2006, read: "The commission notes that the cost of rental accommodation have risen by at least 40% since this allowance was last reviewed, and considerations that an increase is in order." It also stated the commission noted the concerns by MPs over the question of residential security and felt this should be taken into account when awarding an increase in the allowance.

The MPs have also awarded themselves increases in official vehicle allowance by seven per cent, support vehicle allowance 16.6 per cent; electoral vehicle allowance 18 per cent and their drivers allowance 22 per cent. Other increases are: l Domestic/gardeners allowance 10 per cent; l Utilities allowance 25 per cent; l Mobile telephone allowance 25 per cent; and Electoral allowance 30 per cent. The endorsement also covers a submission to patch the disparity in salaries between the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and judges "which is considered unfair and does not reflect the relative responsibility of the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice and Judges". The Chief Justice new salary is K172,007, the Deputy Chief Justice - K157,007 and other judges K142,007 back-dated to November 3, 2005.

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