Opposition alleges gov’t suspended MPs to avoid salary reduction motion

Leader of Opposition, Ralph Regenvanu

The intention to suspend all the 22 Members of Parliament (MP) in the Opposition block from two days consecutive Parliament sittings, was to avoid the tabling of the motion to reduce salaries for the senior leaders in Parliament.

That is the view of the Leader of Opposition, MP Ralph Regenvanu made a statement issued by his Office yesterday.

The motion to deduct the salaries by 50% for the prime minister, all state ministers, speaker of parliament and leader and deputy leader of opposition, was deposited by the Opposition with the Office of the Speaker for the First Ordinary Session of Parliament.

Monies deducted from their salaries would go towards supporting families that became victims of the financial hardships posed by the COVID-10 lockdown, the Opposition Leader said.

According to Mr Regenvanu, this particular motion was the first one to be deposited, thus was registered as motion number One of 2020. He says it was supposed to be the first motion that was to be debated on Tuesday.

The Motion to suspend the Opposition MPs was deposited on June 13, therefore it was listed as motion number six .

According to the press statement, the Government made sure that the Leader and Deputy Leader of Opposition would not have time to table motion number one.

“Government does not want that particular motion to be tabled and debated in Parliament because that would be when the people of Vanuatu know that the prime minister and his state ministers refused to have their huge salaries deducted, to show that solidarity with the population who are currently struggling due to loss of jobs, because of the COVID-19 lockdown.”

The Opposition Leader noted that during this COVID-19 crisis, a lot of parliamentary leaders in countries such as Fiji and New Zealand resorted to salary cuts.

Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Government stressed that the Opposition will still have the opportunity to table that motion in Parliament, if they re-deposit it with the Speaker’s Office in the next Parliament session.

PRO Fred Vurobaravu said the government’s intention was to discipline the Opposition to ensure a good start of the First Ordinary Session of this year.

“The Government has plans to support the country’s economy during this COVID-19 situation.

“It might resort to other options, and of course consider the interests of this country,” Vurobaravu stated.

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