Rules of Etiquette instruct that talking about one’s salary to anyone but a spouse or a head hunter, someone hired by companies to find and recruit individuals who meet specific job requirements, is bad manners.

Some jobs, however, don’t come with the option of keeping secret what the holders of them earn.

Here in Vanuatu, the salaries of many of our most prominent citizens, the President, the Prime Minister and other Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition and various Parliamentary and Constitutional Posts are published for all to see in the Gazette – the official ‘newspaper’ of the Government within whose hallowed pages all Legislation, Orders and other official documents are required to be printed in order for them to pass into law.

The Official Salaries Act [CAP 168] provides for salaries and other benefits payable to holders of certain offices, Orders varying which are published from time to time.

On June 23th (sic) 2015 Order number 64 of 2015, Approval of the English Text of the Official Salaries Consolidated Edition 2015, was so published in the Gazette and came into effect on the same day.

It makes interesting reading.

From it we learn that the President and the Prime Minister earn the same weekly (we are using weekly as it’s easier for we ordinary mortals to relate to than annual) salary of Vt67,846 and that each, among their allowances, is entitled to a rent free furnished house with all facilities (electricity, water, phone paid for by the Government), the use of 2 cars and three servants. The President’s Principal Private Secretary earns Vt48,170 a week and an Assistant Private Secretary Vt33,923.

The President has a Chief Cook (Vt14,926) two drivers (Vt12,890 each) two cleaners (Vt10,177 each), two gardeners (Vt9,498 each) plus a Support Officer to the President’s Office at Vt 9,498 and the same amount for “Office Assistance” to the President’s Office.

The Prime Minister’s much longer list of staff reads like the script of the popular English comedy series “Yes Minister”.

First there is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. He or she earns Vt50,000 a week. Then here are the First Political Advisor, Public Relations Officer, Private Secretary and Senior Advisor to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Vt48,170 each); Technical Advisor to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Vt47,492); Advisor to the Prime Minister (Vt40,495) and the Principal Administrative Officer to the Prime Minister (Vt37,315). The Assistant Senior Advisor to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Second Assistant Senior Advisor to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Assistant Private Secretary – Office of the Prime Minister (I kid you not) all receive Vt33,923 per week. Then there are the Office Manager to the Prime Minister, Office Supervisor to the Prime Minister, Secretary Typist to the Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Secretary Typist, Secretary Typist to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Personal Assistant to the Prime Minister whose weekly salaries between Vt20,354 to Vt13,400.

The Parliamentary Secretary also has a Driver (Vt11,044) and a Residence Cleaner (Vt9,313) while the Prime Minister gets to have a Chaplain (Vt8,654), Second Office Cleaner, Second Office Gardener and First Residence Cleaner at Vt7,447 per week each and a Second Residence Cleaner Vt6,785.

The Deputy Prime Minister meanwhile has to get along with Vt57,670 a week for him or her self, a rent free house and one car for official duties, a Private Secretary and Assistant Private Secretary (Vt38,139 and Vt33,923 respectively) and an “Advisor, Legal and Investment Affairs” (Vt32,396).

The Speaker receives a weekly salary of Vt64,454. He or she is entitled to a house, 2 cars and three servants the same as the President and Prime Minister plus one car for official duties and a Private Secretary who receives Vt48,171. Then there are the First, Second and Third Political Advisors to the Speaker (Vt48,171; Vt38,206 and Vt36,283) and Advisor to the Speaker (Vt32,396). An Office Supervisor receives Vt19,459 while two Secretary Typists, a Filing Clerk, two Drivers, one Office Cleaner, one Residence Gardener and one Residence Cleaner, a Messenger and a Receptionist each have salaries ranging from Vt18,653 to Vt23,400.

The First and Second Deputy Speakers receive Vt27,138 for their services.

Ministerial salaries are Vt54,277. While his or her Advisor receives Vt40,495 the Legal Advisor to the Minister of Trade, Industry, Tourism and Business Development earns Vt32,396. Constituency Liaison Officers’ salaries are Vt28,846 and Ministers’ Office Supervisors’ Vt20,354. A Minister’s Secretary Typist is paid Vt17,308 while a “First Typist” gets Vt14,926 and Grade 2 Vt14,200. Filing Clerks, Drivers, Gardeners, Receptionists and Messengers are paid the same or slightly higher than those working for the Speaker.

The category of “Political Advisors” really goes into “Yes Minister” territory. First, Second and Third Political Advisors to Ministers are paid Vt 47,492; Vt 38,206 and Vt 36,283 respectively per week while the 2nd Second Political Advisor; the 2nd Third Political Advisor to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and other Ministers; the Second, 2nd Second and Third Political Advisors to the Speaker each receives Vt29,027 a week.

On the “Other Side” the Leader of the Opposition is paid Vt54,277 a week, the Deputy Leader Vt48,171 and Private Secretary Vt41,949. Political Advisors/Office Coordination and Constituency Liaison receive Vt38,206 apiece while Office Supervisor, Secretary Typist, Driver and Cleaner are remunerated similarly to those working for Ministers.

The Council of Ministers employs a Secretary (Vt32,396); a Secretary Typist (Vt16,962) and an Officer Supervisor (Vt15,567). In Other Parliamentary Roles the Clerk to Parliament is paid the same as the Leader of the Opposition, Vt54,277 while the Leader of Government Business, Government Whip and Opposition Whip are paid half that amount.

Those holding Constitutional Posts: Public Prosecutor, Public Solicitor, Auditor General and Ombudsman, are also paid Vt54,277 while the Attorney General receives Vt64,454 and the Solicitor General and Chief Parliamentary Counsel each receive Vt61,081.

The Statutory Bodies’ and Commissions’ salaries for Chairpersons and Sitting Allowances are:

The Chairpersons of the Public Service Commission and Government Contracts and Tender Board receive Vt54,277 per week while the Chairpersons of the Electoral, Police Service and Teaching Commissions are paid Vt33,150 and those of a Parliamentary Standing Committee and a Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee Vt 11,538 and Local Government Region Executive Officers Vt26,154.

The Chairpersons of the Citizenship and Judicial Service Commissions and the Health Practitioners, Land Surveyors, Public Service Disciplinary Boards, receive Vt4,000 per sitting. Members of these Commissions and Boards and also the Teaching Service Disciplinary Appeal Board and the Parliamentary Services Selection Committee receive Vt3,000 per sitting while Members of the Public Service Commission and Parliamentary Management Board receive Vt10,000 per sitting.

The National Council of Chiefs is not left out. Its President receives Vt46,154 while Members receive Vt4,000 per day.

As with salaries for political posts and upper management jobs in the private sector fringe benefits often enhance unremarkable salaries. In the Official Salaries Order the lists of them and their recipients are long and considerably detailed.

Daily Post will publish more information taken from the Gazette regarding these “perks” in the coming days.

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