Government and opposition members in parliament yesterday agreed in principle to rectify the salary anomalies of MPs and ministers according to a structured ?protocol system?.
It was agreed that the salaries of the Prime Minister, the Speaker, the opposition leader, ministers, deputy ministers and MPs be structured to a protocol system, falling in line with the salary scales of the judiciary.
As such the salary of an MP will be the same as a high court judge, a deputy minister the same as that of an Appeal Court judge, minister and the opposition leader will get the salary of a Supreme Court judge and the Prime Minister will get a salary higher than that of the Chief Justice.
Parliament also agreed that once the salary scales are re-structured a party or an individual member would have the right to give up the benefits on principle.
The House reached this agreement when JVP parliamentary group leader Wimal Weerawansa said they were opposed to the salary anomalies being rectified given the rising cost of living and the financial burdens now being borne by the common man.
However, Mr. Weerawansa said they accepted that a protocol system needed to be adopted for MPs and ministers, and supported the proposal from that stand point.
SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem also queried if the salaries would be increased retrospectively as well as prospectively.
To this, Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara said there would be no back dating of the salaries, and they would only apply prospectively.
Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who brought up the issue initially in the House said that at present the Secretary of a Ministry was paid twice as much as a minister, and the Additional Secretary twice as much as a deputy minister. He said such a situation was a blow to the dignity of the minister, and would lead to administrative problems within the ministry.
Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera agreed that the status of ministers must be maintained and endorsed the proposed rectification of salary anomalies.
Minister Fernandopulle said the media had been painting a distorted picture that the ministers and MPs were agreeing to increase their salaries. He said it was a rectification of the salary anomalies and not an arbitrary increment, as reported in the media.