SINCE 1980 VANUATU has had more Prime Ministers than the number of general elections, which means each 4 year term that a government has to deliver on its promises is, at times, unfortunately divided up into smaller periods where different coalitions can have their hands on the wheels. But all of that did not come for free, it cost Vanuatu millions of vatu. Clearly, with the current political games again reaching its peeks this is definitely a form of get-rich-quick scheme.
According to the Amendment Act of the Official Salaries of 2006, the Prime Minister, Ministers and their Political Appointees starting from political advisers to drivers are all entitled to gratuity payments when they leave their ministerial positions.
It basically means that at any given time when a new government takes office the outgoing government gets paid. Also, when a Prime Minister reshuffles his cabinet the outgoing Minister and all his political appointees get paid starting from the political advisor right down to the gardener.
How to Calculate a Gratuity Payment
The Official Salaries Act states that ‘gratuity payments are to be paid at the rate of one twelfth of the annual salary for each year, multiplied by two, for each year during which a person holds office’.
Very professional terms used, but it basically explains how to calculate a gratuity payment that probably anyone can do if explained simpler.
The Prime Minister’s Salary stated in the official’s salaries Act is 2,800,000 vatu per year, divide that by 12 (one twelfth) and it will give you 233,333 vatu. Multiply the amount by two (2) and you will get 466,666 vatu. If a MP served for only two years as the Prime Minister, then get that 466,666 vatu and multiply it by that two years to give you an estimate of how much they get as gratuity payment.
Ministers are entitled to an annual salary of 2,400,000 vatu. If there is a reshuffle within the cabinet the amount that the outgoing minister receives will depend entirely on how long he served as a minister – basically, the longer his term the more he gets.
Increase in Gratuity Payments since 2002
Records of gratuity payments obtained from the Finance and Treasury Department shows that the government’s spending on gratuity payments has consistently increased since 2002.
|Year||Payment Description||Total (VT)|
From 2002 to 2014, the Finance Department recorded a total amount of more than 104 million vatu spent on gratuity payments.
It can be noted that in certain years where there has been some changes in the government relating to reshuffles and no confidence motions, gratuity expenditure is higher.
In 2002, the government only spent VT822, 994 on gratuity payments. In 2010, it was VT 2,209, 169. However, in 2012 the figure rose to 14, 207, 868vatu.
Eventually last year’s gratuity payment reached a peak of over 24 million vatu, a significant increase of 18% from 2002.
According to the Official Salaries Act, the positions and their salary scales are as follows:
|Ministerial Positions||Annual Salary (VT)|
|First Political Advisor||1,684,584|
|Second Political Advisor||1,509,384|
|Third Political Advisor||1,509,384|
|2nd Second Political Advisor||1,509,384|
|2nd Third Political Advisor||1,509,384|
|Ministers’ Office Supervisors||809,496|
|Ministers’ Secretary/typists Grade 1||720,000|
|Ministers’ Secretary/typists Grade 2||590,712|
|Ministers’ Drivers Grade 1||459,456|
|Ministers’ Drivers Grade 1||387,240|
|Minister’s Residence Gardener||438,240|
|Minister’s Residence Cleaner||387,240|
The Office of the Leader of the Opposition:
|Position||Annual Salary (VT)|
|Leader of the Opposition||1,369,060|
|Political Advisor – Office Coordination||1,684,584|
|Political Advisor – Constituency Liaison||1,509,384|
The Speaker of Parliaments’ annual salary is 2,800,000 vatu, the First Deputy Speaker is entitled to 1,369,060 vatu and the Second Deputy Speakers is entitled to an annual salary of 1,012,044 vatu.
Given this figures, the recent massive changes in political positions surely took more than what some of us might think.
TIV attempted to obtain reports of the gratuity expenditure for the recent government’s change on June 2015, but was informed that payments are not yet complete thus an exact amount cannot be released yet.
However, TIV will continue to try to get further descriptions and breakdowns of this gratuity payments, if there is one, to share with the public.
For Whose Benefit?
The hard truth is, since the last general election three years ago, Vanuatu has had four different governments.
The Kilman government took control from 2012 to 2013; Moana Carcasses took over from 2013 to 2014, followed by the Natuman government in 2014 to 2015. And now at present we have the Kilman government again.
Looking back at our political history since 1992, the same names and political figures continue to appear during motions of no confidence.
When will our leaders stop thinking about themselves and start putting more focus to assist those that struggle every day to earn income so they can put food on their table?
Naturally, Vanuatu is already a divided nation separated by over 110 languages and cultures including the vast Pacific Ocean. Amazingly, we have found ways to work together to be united enough to be considered as the happiest place on earth.
If we can unite as a nation, can our national leaders unite as individuals?
If this same scenario continues to be repeated, then the people of Vanuatu need to rethink and be more thorough when election time comes. Otherwise, we may get to the point where the number of prime ministers outnumber Vanuatu’s years as an independent nation.
Already the writings are on the walls, in some public offices the portrait of former prime ministers from several years ago still hang on the wall while the current prime ministers’ portrait is nowhere in sight. And we ask ourselves, is it laziness? No money for framed portraits? Or is it just another way of showing frustration towards political instability, and the fact that funds are being diverted elsewhere from their most needy recipients.