THE Whole House Committee has today deferred deliberations on a motion concerning the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser’s controversial salary until the Hon. Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva returns to Tonga.
This follows a call made by the Acting Prime Minister Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni to adjourn deliberations on the motion as the Prime Minister is currently abroad.
Last week it was referred from Parliament to the Whole House Committee for further consideration on a proposal by Nobles' Represenative No.2 for Vavaú, Lord Tu’ilakepa.
The motion is a proposition for Government’s immediate action to settle issues relating to the Prime Minister's Media Adviser who is paid $1200 a week yet only works three days a week.
Lord Tu’ilakepa maintained that the Prime Minister's Media Adviser is being paid with taxpayer’s money and hence the call for Government to review his salary.
The Media Adviser is claimed to have initially paid at $500 a day and it was reduced to $400.
Nobles' Representative No. 1 for Tongatapu, Lord Vaea was also in opposition of Government’s plea and questioned Cabinet's doctrine of collective responsibility.
“I am concerned about Cabinet’s capability to work as a team … it seems Cabinet Ministers do not want to assist the Prime Minister… When the Prime Minister is away his Deputy should step in, take the lead and act on behalf of the Prime Minister,” explained Lord Vaea.
In rebuttal the Hon. Minister of Infrastructure and Tourism ‘Etuate Lavulavu said Cabinet Ministers work together and respect each other and hence the request made by the Acting Prime Minister.
“It is based on the need to further review the Pime Minister's Media Adviser’s work contract and other legal matters,” said the Ministry of Infrastructure and Tourism Minister.
Hon. Lavulavu also mentioned that the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser should be paid at $1000 a day for his years of experience in the media. However, his salary has been reduced to $400.
Last week when the motion was introduced the Minister in Charge, while both the Prime Minister and his Deputy were engaged in official meetings overseas, Lord Ma’afu requested Parliament to leave Government’s internal matter to be settled by Cabinet.
Lord Ma’afu also defended Government’s stance that it would be a waste of time for Parliament to debate on such motions as the Prime Minister is out of Tonga. .
He also mentioned that Government is now considering the matter.