By Alfred Sasako
TWO senior staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office appear to have escaped savage cost-cutting measures taken by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare earlier this year.
Many Political Appointees lost their jobs as a result of the premature termination of their contracts.
Now it has emerged that Chief of Staff Robson Djokovich and Special Secretary to Prime Minister (SSPM), John Muria Jnr are reportedly seeking improved conditions to their lucrative contracts.
Under their initial contracts, they were collecting monthly transport allowance as high as $12,000 each.
Government sources warned this might have changed since the two senior officers were seeking improved working conditions.
Both officers, while in receipt of an exorbitant monthly transport allowance, are reportedly using Government-issued vehicles contrary to their contracts.
Their actions could be tantamount to double dipping, something both men had accused former SSPM, Andrew Muaki of.
Sources pointed out that in Mr Muaki’s case, the G-vehicle he was using while in office was issued to his office and not to him as an individual.
Government sources said contracts are quite clear on who gets transport allowance and or vehicle and who does not.
“For SS4 Political Appointees the government either provides vehicle or hire one for them. If none of the above then they get transportation allowance of $12,000 per month. This only applies to SSPM, COS, and Policy Secretaries. All other Political Appointees are only entitled to transportation allowance.
“They can’t garage or use for personal purpose government vehicle or government hired vehicle,” one told Island Sun yesterday.
The sources said it is known that both the Chief of Staff and the SSPM have been renegotiating improvements in their contracts.
“In the case of the Chief of Staff he wants two things to be incorporated in his contract – business class travel when on duty travel overseas as well as his basic salary to be increased to $7, 000 a fortnight.
“The SSPM on the other hand wants an increase in his housing allowance,” the sources said.
Island Sun was unable to confirm whether the changes being sought by both officers had been approved.
Political Appointees whose contracts were terminated as a result of the cost-cutting measures are certain to be angry about this development.