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Toribiong wants equity for top officials

By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon) – Palau President Johnson Toribiong is asking Congress to raise the salaries of the President, Vice President and ministries.

In the Fiscal Year 2010 annual budget measure submitted by the president on Friday, he asked lawmakers to increase the pay of the Executive Branch "to a level commensurate with their responsibilities and with the compensation paid to the members of our legislative and judicial branches of government . The requested increases should be granted as a matter if equity and logic."

[PIR editor’s note: Johnson Toribiong, an attorney and former ambassador to Taiwan, is Palau’s seventh president. He took office in January 2009, succeeding former president Tommy Remengesau Jr. ]

In the budget measure, the president is proposing that he should receive an annual salary to and "in no event less than the salary paid to the Chief Justice of the Palau Supreme Court."

He also proposed that the Vice President receive an annual salary "equal to an in no event less than the salary paid to the highest paid Associate Justice of Palau Supreme Court."

The measure also asked for increase in the salary of Ministers equal to salaries received by members of Congress.

The president is currently receiving a salary of $50,000 a year ; Vice President , $45,000 ; and Ministers ; $30,000.

In his transmittal letter to the Olbiil Era Kelulau leaders, Toribiong said if members of the Congress will reduce their compensation then the compensation of the officials of the Executive Branch and certain judges will be reduced in "equal measure."

Members of Congress are receiving annual salaries of $50,000 each.

Senator Tommy Remengesau in an interview said that it is " a bad time to increase their salaries."

He said there are other more important priorities especially at a time that the government need to identify sources of revenues.

Sen. Mark Rudimch, Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee said that the Senate has just received the measure and that meetings will still be held to discuss the issue.

He said that there is a pending bill to increase the salaries of officials of the Executive Branch, instead the Executive Branch went another way and included it in the budget proposal.

Earlier President Johnson Toribiong announced that the government will be reducing spending restricting government travels, hiring of new employees and unnecessary expenses due to an expected shortfall in the budget.

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