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PM backs better salaries to attract top talent

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The Government yesterday moved a motion to increase the monthly allowances of the independent commissions with the hope of attracting qualified and capable individuals to these positions.

The motion was moved by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who proposed that the heads of the commissions and their members would have telephone and fuel allowances and receive a vehicle for both official and private use.The salary of the Director-General (DG) of the Bribery Commission was also revised to match the monthly salary and allowances entitled to the post of Additional Solicitor-General.03_revised_ranil_st_175032f-copy

While presenting the motion, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted the need to “offer better salaries to select better people for these independent commissions.”

“We will also consider the salaries of the Members of Parliament at a later stage,” he promised the House.

A monthly allowance of Rs. 100,000 will be offered to all Chairmen except for those who get appointed by authority. A telephone allowance of Rs. 10,000, a vehicle which is allowed for personal use, 225 litres of fuel or an allowance equal to market prices will also be offered. 

Heads of commissions who get appointed by post will receive a monthly allowance of Rs. 50,000 in addition to their current salaries and other benefits. The commission chairpersons, other than that of the Bribery Commission, will have a Rs. 75,000 monthly allowance, Rs. 8,000 telephone allowance and a Rs. 25,000 transport allowance for 250 km or Rs. 50,000 if the distance exceeds 350 km.

Furthermore, each member of these commissions will be paid Rs. 10,000 per sitting. Parliament also approved a monthly allowance of Rs. 95,000, a telephone allowance of Rs. 8,000 and a vehicle allowed for private use with 170 litres of fuel for the Chairman of the Bribery Commission. 

Moreover, the members of the Elections Commission will have an increased allowance from the day an election is announced.

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has given approval to pay, with effect from the date of her appointment on 12 February 2015, salary and allowances to A.A.P. Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, President’s Counsel and former Additional Solicitor-General of the Attorney General’s Department. She was appointed to the current post by the Government following the January 2015 Presidential Elections.

Her new monthly salary   and   all   allowances   will be the same as those entitled to the post of Additional Solicitor-General. The proposed Director-General of the Commission will receive a Ministry Secretary’s allowance, a telephone allowance, a fuel allowance and a house rent allowance provided that official Government quarters are not allocated.

Urging the commissions, which will soon complete one year in operation, to submit their reports to Parliament, the Prime Minister highlighted that it was the Parliament which determined the salaries of the members of these commissions. He said that the previous administration destroyed these independent committees.

“Your biggest issue is that these commissions are now functioning under President Sirisena. In 2001 we moved the 17th Amendment in this Parliament to establish the independent committees, which functioned for several years. Then these committees were abolished in 2010. For the first time Opposition political parties, civil societies and the public along with clergy got together against the abolition of the independent commissions. They selected a common candidate, none other than Maithripala Sirisena. All of us are committed to establishing his election manifesto. Now we have established a new National Government. Many are against establishing a National Government and solving national issues,” the Premier said.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe asserted that the commissions functioned independently now without any influence over appointments, adding that for the first time President Sirisena wanted the appointment of the Inspector General of the Police to be made through the Constitutional Assembly.  

“For the first time you are unable to influence the appointments and poke your fingers in. No matter what you do and how loud you shout this democratic process will not stop. Will you go for an election promising to abolish the independent commissions? Tell me why you are against the independent commissions? None of these commissions has jurisdictions. Today people have faith in the Judiciary. Judges are no longer willing to kneel before politicians. Gone are the days that judgements were conveyed over the phone,” he added.

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