With the stealth and timing underpinning the Section 34 imbroglio, MPs of the Lower House from both sides approved last week increased pensions for judges and the MPs themselves. It is not by chance that both bills were twinned in presentation for parliamentary passage; neither was it accidental that the tabling of such happened at the start of the World Cup football fever.
The new pensions quantum payable to MPs was in line with what is occurring in the private sector, argued one presenter. Wrong. The normal “best’’ payable under defined benefit schemes of premier private and public sector entities averages two thirds of the average annual salary—excluding allowances, of an employee contributor; and this average salary may be of the last 12 or 24 months of employment of the employee contributor after having continuously worked for 25 to 30 years. And generally, the pension payable under the defined benefit scheme is not subject to indexation of any kind.
What the MPs have approved for themselves is totally contradictory to the above current practice: the two thirds ceiling of monthly salary is arrived at and exceeded after eight years of public service (by sleight of hand, the MPs proposal by adding allowance and emoluments to the base salary, makes it appear otherwise).
MPs do not contribute to the scheme from their monthly salary; most anomalously, if, as an MP, you make 18 years and more of public service, the monthly pension payable will exceed the monthly salary you are earning; and, the pensions are effectively indexed by the measurement mechanisms employed viz “one-half’’, “three-fifths’’, “three-fourths’’ of monthly salary and emoluments etc.
Citizens, wake up. The protective constitutional arm of the Salaries Review Commission is being severely tested and view the Senate proceedings on June 24.
Don’t be surprised if you witness critical absences of senior Senate members on that day; and let’s see how really independent are the Independents...