Judges' "favourable" salary package approved, pending approval
The Judicial Service Commission has approved a proposal that seeks “favourable” salary packages for all Judges in a bid to retain the members of the bench.
The Secretary of the J.S.C. and the Ministry of Justice Courts and Administration Chief Executive Officer, Moliei Vaai Simi, has confirmed the approval by the commission.
“It has been endorsed by the Judicial Service Commission and is with the Ministry of Finance and Tribunal Remuneration for finalisation,” Ms. Simi told the Samoa Observer.
“Once it’s finalised then it’s submitted for Cabinet’s decision.”
The Ministry of Justice, the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) and the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet prepared a recommendation for better salaries, allowances and entitlements for members of the judiciary that is comparable to other branches of the Government.
According to the J.S.C. submission, “leave and other entitlements for Judges must not be less favourable than those given to the Chief Executive Officers…”
It also argued that the remuneration package for members of the bench “must also reflect the nature of the office held.”
Furthermore the submission says that this is to take into account a “secure remuneration and compensation for members of the judiciary” and is necessary to “ensure public confidence in the independence of the judiciary and in the fairness of its decisions.”
Some of the recommendations include “allowances and entitlements for the President of the L.T.C. (Land and Titles Court) are not less favourable than the entitlements and allowances for the Supreme Court Judges.”
In addition similar benefits for the District Court Judges are “not less favourable than those given to Chief Executive officers of Government Ministries…”
In terms of accommodation allowance, it was recommended that the Chief Justice should be entitled to $1,000 per month for the purposes of assisting with supplementing rental costs and for the payment of utilities and maintenance costs.
“Where it is necessary for the Chief Justice to rent suitable housing then any lease agreement or rental agreement will be made between the Chief Justice personally and the landlord of the property to be rented,” the proposal states. “The State, through the Samoa Police Service shall provide the necessary security services for the Chief Justice.
“All other judiciary members shall not be entitled to an accommodation allowance.”
The proposal also covers overseas travel, travel between Upolu and Savai’i and travel allowances.
It noted that the Chief Justice shall be entitled to the same type of travel arrangements and travel classes which apply to the Prime Minister from time to time.
Supreme Court Judges and the President of the L.T.C. shall be entitled to the same travel arrangements and travel classes which apply to Cabinet Ministers from time to time, the submission added.
District Court Judges are also entitled to the same travel arrangements and travel classes which apply to Chief Executive Officers of Government from time to time.
“Fa’amasino Fesoasoani and Samoan Judges of the L.T.C. shall be entitled to the same travel arrangements and classes which apply to Assistant Chief Executive Officers of Government Ministries from time to time.”
For vehicle and fuel expenses the Chief Justice, Supreme Court Judges, the L.T.C. President and District Court Judges shall each be entitled to one vehicle for official and personal use of a type determined by Cabinet from time to time.
The proposal also noted the recommendation of $5,000 fuel expense per annum for the Chief Justice, Supreme Court Judges, the L.T.C. President and District Court Judges.
Other working conditions and arrangements for members of the judiciary are also included in the submission.
It referred to a human resource consultant report that addressed other matters relating to working conditions and arrangements for members of the judiciary.
Other matters in the proposal include the need to develop recruitment and selection guidelines for the appointment of judges, review of duration of the term of appointment and extension beyond retirement.