By STEPHANIE ELIZAH
A THIRD-level government councillor is shocked at the 52 % pay rise for members of parliament which they voted to give themselves last week.
Former Central premier and the ward councillor of the Vanapa ward of the rural Hiri local level government, Central, Emmanuel Ume, said, “I am shocked and I am sure 89 % of this country is shocked at the more than 50 % increase to the members’ base salaries.”
Ume fronted up at The National last Friday to express his frustration at members of parliament giving themselves a pay rise.
“I feel it is a slap in the face for Papua New Guineans,” Ume said.
He added: “I ask the national government that while they are so concerned about themselves, what about the ward councillors and village court officials throughout the country?”
He argued that these public servants dedicated themselves to their roles with little return from the government and deserved to be appreciated.
“Take government village court officials for example. These are the people who are placed at risk everyday dealing with sensitive issues yet they are paid a lousy K24 per month and in most instances, they have to wait months to receive their payment,” Ume said.
He added that more than 6,000 ward councillors in the country had similar stories with ward councillors receiving about K50 per week or K200 per month.
“We also have to wait for months to receive our allowances. Sadly enough, I have heard from high ranking public servants that we may not be receiving our allowances in 2011 because we do not have a budget,” Ume claimed.
He added that it made work on the ground difficult for ward councillors when people hear of their members of parliament increasing base salaries.
“We are the face of the government in the rural areas where the bulk of the people are. It is very unfair that while our politicians are enjoying their large salaries, we, on our little salaries are doing our best to deal with the misunderstandings and frustrations the rural people feel when they hear of such news about their government,” Ume said.