Over handling of PER, called for neutrality and matters related to PER of MPs be given back to Parliament
By Gary Hatigeva
MEMBER of Parliament for Fataleka Constituency, Steve Abana has lashed out at the Office of the Prime Minister on the manner in which matters related to Medical Entitlement of members of Parliament (MPs), are being handled.
This, the Fataleka MP threw out at representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office when presenting their case, during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing into the 2018 Supplementary Appropriation Bill (2) on Wednesday.
He said the office of the PM is currently responsible for processing their documents, but the OPMC ought to realise that a lot of MPs are sick, unfortunately, the projection under the Office’s head only requested for six.
“The problem with the Prime Minister’s Office is that, you guys have a very sluggish, useless and wasted system in terms of dealing with MPs.
He further pointed out that there is always this uncalled for delay in how the office is handling this matter, with prolonged processions by officers responsible.
“What kind of a system are you guys using in there to send MPs out when they are sick? We’d wait until they almost die before you intend to send them.
“I see that sometimes, officers within the PMO turned to act as if they are more powerful than us the Members of Parliament,” Abana stressed.
He then shared that some former MPs could have been saved if such matters are being handled well and given to neutral bodies or people.
He then strongly recommended and suggested for the matter to be transferred back to Parliament to administer and allow for the Speaker and Clerk who will be more neutral to handle it and not with the PMO where it continued to be politicised.
“I speak from within the government, and this is not on, and this budget, I hope are not using the heads just to get funding, which you guys will use for your own travel expenses and those selected ones who are sick.
“We need to give this head back to Parliament, before we die one by one in the carelessness and hands of those in that office,” the Fataleka MP added.
In addition, the MP for East Makira, Alfred Giro also shared similar concerns with the Fataleka MP, reiterated that in the PMO, political influences and interests are always practised over the PER.
“In there, politics is very much involved in the PER, and they chose who to go first and who to be delay, but the situations are all the same,” Giro shared.
He also agreed that anything to do with PER of MPs should be brought back to Parliament than it remaining with PMO.
This according to the Chairman of PAC and MP for East Honiara, Douglas Ete, is a matter for the officials representing the PMO to take serious note of as it should be a matter handled by a separate body apart from the OPMC or Caucus.
“This is something that is on the discretion of the Prime Minister himself, but it shouldn’t be treated as such. It should be an independent body, or person,” the PAC Chair further stressed.
Taking the points raised, the Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister noted and assured that the PMO team will see that the matters are relayed to the bosses and officers responsible within the office.
“We do acknowledge the concerns, but in terms of overseas cost, it something that is not under the budget of other ministries, but that’s probably one thing that could be looked at, or even to come back to Parliament.
“So in times where it is not budgeted for under the ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office take on the responsibility, and so it would be easier to move it back to parliament.
“Also, it would be good if such areas are clearly spelt out in the Parliamentary Entitlement Regulations so that administration would be easy,” the Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minster said.