The FijiFirst Party has terminated seventeen Members of Parliament who voted in favour of salary increases last Friday.

The seventeen Opposition Members received letters from the Acting General Secretary, Faiyaz Koya of the party notifying them that their seat in Parliament has been vacated.

Spokesperson for the members, Jone Usamate said they are disputing the legality of the termination letter.

“As far as we are concerned we are still members of Parliament.”

“We will await the full process of the law to take its course,” he said.

The terminated MPs are Inia Seruiratu, Alvick Maharaj, Semi Koroilavesau, Viliame Naupoto, Ioane Naivalurua, Naisa Tuiceva, Jone Usamate, Mosese Bulitavu, Penioni Ravunawa, Sanjay Kirpal, Shalen Kumar, Virendra Lal, Sachida Nand, Vijay Nath, Ratu Josaia Niudamu, Taito Rokomatu and Alipate Tuicolo.

Meanwhile,Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka confirmed that changes to salaries, allowances, and benefits for the President, Speaker, Leader of Opposition, and Members of Cabinet and Parliament, as required by the Parliamentary Remunerations Act of 2014, have been gazetted.

These changes are now binding on the Executive arm of Government to implement from 01 August 2024, to 31 December 2024 unless Parliament decides otherwise before 01 August 2024.

The motion, passed by Parliament on 24 May 2024, aligns with sections 3, 12, and 13 of the Parliamentary Remunerations Act 2014, amending parts 1 and 2 of the Schedule of the Act regarding salaries and benefits. The Secretary General to Parliament has officially gazetted this determination.

Any further changes will need Cabinet consideration before being presented to Parliament.

Prime Minister Rabuka assured the public he is listening to their views expressed since the motion passed. The motion followed recommendations from the Special Committee on Emoluments, which also suggested future reviews be conducted by an independent committee, requiring a substantive amendment to the 2014 Act. This amendment will involve drafting a Bill, public consultations, and Cabinet consideration.

The Special Committee also recommended reviewing the Parliamentary Retirement Allowances Act 1989. This review will include consultations, drafting a Bill, and Cabinet consideration before it is tabled in Parliament. The public will have opportunities to express their views on both Bills before they are considered by Cabinet and Parliament.

Rabuka highlighted that as of 24 May 2024, the determination is binding on the Executive arm of Government, effective 01 August 2024, expiring on 31 December 2024, unless renewed.

He noted the importance of public and media engagement in this democratic process.

Prime Minister Rabuka and some Cabinet colleagues will not take the salary increase following the removal of the 20 percent pay reduction implemented in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

He emphasised that the upcoming budget discussions in June and the subsequent parliamentary debates will allow Members of Parliament to review their decision from 24 May 2024.

He urged Members of Parliament to consider the impact of their vote on the country.