Members of Parliament in Vanuatu will now receive a higher amount of funding to cater for their constituents.
The MPs will now be entitled to an amount of VT5 million(US$41,544) as their MP Allocation fund. This is after an additional VT2 million (US$16,617) was added to the VT3 million(US$24,926) that MPs were getting for their allocation in previous years.
The Parliament Members Expenses and Allowances Amendment Act No. of 2023, which was tabled by Prime Minister (PM) Ishmael Kalsakau, was unanimously voted for by 51 MPs during the 2023 First Extraordinary Session.
The increase in the allocation fund was attributed to the constituency needs and hardships encountered by MPs.
PM Kalsakau explained that works had been done in the previous years by the Parliamentary Privilege Committee to justify the increase.
The Ministerial Budget Committee in 2023 also deliberated and approved the new increase in order for MPs to access it and serve their constituencies.
In a bid to ensure accountability, another Bill will also be tabled before the Parliament to amend the Leadership Code.
This will require MPs to report annually and certify that they have spent the allocation accordingly and fairly within their constituencies.
Failure to report expenses will result in being held liable for breaches under the Leadership Code.
MPs from both the Government and Opposition sides expressed their support for the increased allocation fund, with many agreeing that the previous allocation of VT3 million was not enough to meet all the needs of their constituents. MP for Tanna, Andrew Napuat, reminded MPs that the allocation fund is not for them but for the people in their constituencies. The increased allocation will ensure that MPs are able to serve their constituents better and cater for their needs.