New MPs to Cost N$29 Million Annually

PLANS to increase the size parliament will cost government about N$75 million – up from the current N$46 million annually – on salaries for additional 46 members, if the wide raging constitutional changes are adopted.

Ordinary members of parliament earn about N$620 000 yearly. If the MPs do not get an increase in salaries and packages next year, the additional parliamentarians will cost the taxpayer about N$29 million – N$20 million for National Assembly and N$9 million for the National Council per year if they remain backbenchers.

The National Assembly will get an additional 32 members while the National Council gets 14 new members, according to proposals.

At the end of their five-year term, the new MPs would have cost the taxpayer an additional N$142 million – money that could be used to build roads, schools, clinics and provide potable water to remote communities that do not have such facilities.

A huge parliamentary wage bill is just one of the consequences of government’s push for major changes to the country’s constitution. Government will also have to fork out millions in the creation of various agencies and the positions of the vice President.

The vice President would earn anything between the President’s annual package of N$2,1 million and the Prime Minister’s N$1,1 million annual package.

The cost to government would still be much higher considering the need to create an office, staff and the security details for the vice President.

The National Assembly chamber is already full and does not have space for an additional 32 members. This has, however, sparked speculation that government would use the expansion of parliament to justify the construction of the planned N$700 million parliamentary building.

Secretary to the National Assembly Jakes Jacobs yesterday declined to comment on the logistical challenges regarding the expansion. He, however, said his office would start making provisions to enlarge parliament should the need to do so arise.

Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said her ministry will leave the issue of money to parliament since the issue is currently being discussed in the National Assembly.

“I do not suppose we can demand parliament to make decisions based on money we planned [for],” she said.

Attorney General Albert Kawana conceded in the National Assembly last week when he motivated the proposed changes to the national laws that the creation of a vice President’s post would make the executive top-heavy, but maintained that it was part of nation building.

Despite the intense opposition to the sweeping changes to the Constitution, government is still persisting in rushing the changes through without a national consultation process taking place.

Source : The Namibian