By Lawrence Williams
A Bill entitled the Parliamentary Welfare Act 2022 proposes that each Member of Parliament receives $25,000 for a vehicle each term and $15,000 for a medical allowance per year.
The Bill stipulates also that the Speaker’s salary and other terms of service shall be the same as that of the Vice President, while those of the deputy speaker shall be at par with the conditions of service of the Chief Justice. Additionally, the Bill states that the salary and other conditions of service of the Clerk of Parliament shall be the same as that of the Solicitor General.
MPs will also be entitled to 45 liters of fuel every week in addition to a sitting fee of Le250,000 for every sitting. Moreover, in addition to flying on a business class, the Bill provides lawmakers with a recess allowance, facilitation allowance and wage increment.
“The salaries of Members of Parliament shall be exactly the same as that of Ministers of Government,” the Bill states in section 3; with a proviso that reads: “Provided that the Leader of Government Business and Leader of Opposition and their Deputies shall be entitled to 15% above the basic salary of other Members of Parliament and The Chief Whip and Whip of the Opposition shall be entitled to 10% and the other Leaders (Deputy Chief Whip, Deputy Whip of Opposition, Leaders of Political Parties and Deputies, Leader of Parliamentary Female Caucus and Deputy and Leader of Paramount Chief MPs and Deputy) shall be entitled to 5% above the basic salary of other Members of Parliament.”
It is generally understood that members of the public are dissatisfied with the proposal embodied in the Bill, especially when teachers are vilified for simply requesting a modest pay raise.
Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI), a watchdog group which has held parliament accountable in the past, said the move implies that lawmakers don’t care about the people’s suffering, but only care about themselves.
“…politicians should represent their communities and protect the public interest, and not their private interest,” CHRDI stated.
Meanwhile, the clerk’s office has not yet issued an official communication. However, a parliamentary source says the Bill will be presented sooner rather than later and will be left to mature for 21 days.