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Accommodation and vehicle allowances are said to be too low

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 19, 2009) – Members of Parliament are set to give themselves a 42 percent rise in accommodation allowances and a further 50 percent increase in vehicle allowances.

The 35th Report of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) presented to Parliament yesterday afternoon by SRC member and Public Service Minister Peter O’Neill, on behalf of the Speaker, recommended the increase to Parliament.

The Speaker is chairman of the SRC.

Members will vote on the measure soon.

Mr. O’Neill, on behalf of the SRC, said the report related to the accommodation allowance which, from complaints that had been received, was far below the amount charged by real estate companies and, as a result, many MPs end up staying with wantoks in the settlements whenever they come to Port Moresby. O’Neill said the SRC, through its contacts, had established that the recent increase on charges for rental accommodation imposed by real estate companies was around 42 percent .

"The commission does not always increase the accommodation allowance whenever there is an increase in rental charges, however, in this instance because of the difficulties being experienced by leaders in securing reasonable accommodation in Port Moresby, the commission had decided to recommend an increase along the same level as imposed by the real estate companies," O’Neill said.

The second matter that the report dealt with related to vehicle allowance.

O’Neill said the SRC was aware that the type of vehicle (a Mazda 929), upon which the vehicle allowance was originally determined, was no longer sold in Papua New Guinea.

"This meant that another vehicle type will need to be determined in order to update the allowance base. This will be done in due course.

"In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, the commission has decided to recommend an increase of 50 percent on all vehicle allowances.

"I recommend the report to the honourable Members of the House."

According to figures taken from the SRC determination of 2007, released on July 1, the Prime Minister, Speaker, Deputy Prime Minister and Opposition leader and ministers enjoy a vehicle allowance of K49,500 [US$17, 800] and drivers get K7,150 [US$2, 500] annually.

This will now be increased to about K75, 000 [US$27, 000] and drivers’ pay to increase to about K12,000 per annum.

Vice-ministers, chairmen of parliamentary committees and the deputy Speaker are now receiving an official vehicle allowance of K42,075, [US$15, 000] which will increase to about K63,000 [US$22, 700] .

MPs receive a vehicle allowance of K24, 750 [US$8, 900] each and that will increase to K40, 000 [US$14, 000].

For accommodation, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Speaker and leader of Opposition currently receive K1,400 a week, which is likely to increase to around K2,100 a week.

Ministers and chairmen of parliamentary committees get K1,200 a week, deputy Speaker, vice-ministers, deputy chairmen of committees get around K900 a week while Opposition and Government whips get K800 a week.

Ordinary MPs receive around K700 a week and will see an increase of 42 percent with the recommended increase in accommodation allowances.

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