The Prime Minister was moving a Resolution in Parliament yesterday to increase the emoluments and other allowances to Chairpersons and Members of the Independent Commissions.
The Premier pointed out that democracy has been established in the country and people are enjoying their freedoms as never before due to the Government’s commitment to uphold the independence of institutions.
“Today, all these strikes are mushrooming because people have freedom.
Those who get involved in strikes know that they won’t be abducted by white vans and killed. Today, media freedom is thriving. Can you imagine the fate of journalists had they clamoured against the previous regime as they are doing now?” the Prime Minister asked.
“You all are asking for elections today. The confidence on democratic elections was restored only after the setting up of an Independent Election Commission. It has more decision making powers today,” the Prime Minister said replying to the JO MPs who complained of delaying elections,” the Premier said.
“We will definitely hold the Provincial Councils Elections. Do not have any doubts about that. We held the Local Government Elections even when the atmosphere was not favourable to the Government. We could have delayed the LG elections by giving various reasons, but we didn’t do that. We lost and we accepted it. The PC elections will be conducted as soon as possible and we have to agree on the system we follow,” said the PM.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa intervening at this point said elections must be held soon under whatever system. The PM replied saying that the Government prefers holding the elections to six PCs on the same day, but added that the Elections Commission Chairman will decide whether to conduct the elections in 5 or 6 PCs.
“Today the entire judicial service is independent with the setup of judicial service commission. Those days, not even the Chief Justice was spared. The independence of public service has been restored. The Commissions on Bribery and Corruption and Human Rights are doing a commendable job. We asked for these independent commissions even when we were in the Opposition, but those were not given,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe commented stating that all the benefits of these institutions are for the people.
The revisions to emoluments of Independent Commission members are with retrospective effect from June 1. The monthly allowance of Rs. 100,000 paid at present to the non ex-officio Chairpersons of Independent Commissions has been increased to Rs. 135,000. Ex-officio Chairpersons will receive 50 percent of the monthly allowance paid to the other Chairpersons in addition to salaries and allowances of their substantive posts.
The Chairperson and Members of the Election Commission will be paid a special allowance equivalent to three-fourths of their monthly allowance during the period from the day an election is declared to the day the results of that election is announced.
The monthly allowance of Rs. 75,000 paid at present to the non ex-officio Members of the Independent Commissions (other than Bribery Commission) has been increased to Rs. 90,000.
The monthly allowance of Rs. 95,000 paid at present to the Chairman and Members of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption has been increased to Rs. 130,000.
Ex-officio Members of the Independent Commissions will be paid an allowance of Rs.10,000 for each meeting they attend.