MP questions practise of suspending govt officials with pay and benefits

Government officials who are suspended pending an investigation against them should not be paid.

That is the view of Salega East Member of Parliament, Olo Fonoti Vaai.

He pointed to the recent suspension of the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (MJCA), Papali’i John Taimalelagi and that of the former CEO of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.), Afamasaga Su'a Pou Onesemo. 

Both were suspended with pay for a month.

“The PSC should amend their regulations to have a clause in the employment contract that public servants (including Judges, Cabinet Ministers) should be suspended/take special leave without remuneration, pending the investigation,” Olo said. 

The MP then pointed to the “special leave” with pay for the President of the Land and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati.

“He took his so-called special leave since March 2018 it is now March 2019 and Fepuela’i is still getting his $131,250 salary with his vehicle. 

“And you tell me, who is forking out for this $131,250 per annum salary? It is public funds, period! All of these funds for someone who is not working. Again is this fair to the tax payers? Where is the fairness in all of this?” 

The hearing of the case against the President is pending. The ruling has been appealed.

“I just cannot fathom how this can continue to happen. I understand the appeal is pending, but that is not the issue, we are talking about impartiality of tax payers monies.” 

"The Government should reconsider their laws when it comes to officials who are suspended/taking special leave, should be without remuneration. 

“At the completion of the investigation and if the government wishes to reinstate the government official, they should receive full back pay. 

“They are entitled, but not when their case is pending and we are unaware of the outcome.” 

Olo also brought up the case of the late Police Commissioner Lilomaiava Fou Taioalo who was suspended for nearly a year. 

“He was suspended with pay and after the Inquiry, his contract was terminated. 

“It begs the questions; did the government recover the funds paid to him while he was on suspension? I highly doubt that, hence the concern on remuneration of government officials while suspended/taking special leave."

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