Salary Rise for Politicians

THE Public Office Bearers’ Remuneration and Benefits Commission, which recommended a 31% salary increase for politicians in 2012, will again try to get a salary increase for politicians this year.

Judge President Petrus Damaseb, who chairs the commission, told The Namibian on Wednesday that they have been busy with their regular review of politicians’ salaries and will make recommendations to President Hifikepunye Pohamba soon.

Last year, the commission that had recommended a 31% salary increment for office bearers could not get its way after President Pohamba reduced it to 15%.

Damaseb said the commission still believes that Namibian politicians are lagging behind in terms of remuneration.

“We have now completed a review and are in the process of formulating recommendations to the President. It will be up to the President to act on our recommendations,” Damaseb said.

It remains unclear what percentage increase the commission will recommend, but it is expected that politicians will get an increase as the commission believes the politicians have been underpaid for many years.

According to Damaseb, the commission made it clear in its first review report issued at the end of 2012 that the failure over an extended period to adjust salaries of politicians had “serious corrosive” effects on their perks.

“Now that we have reached a point which, as a commission, we feel we have achieved some measure of adequate and defensible public office bearer remuneration, we cannot as a responsible commission, allow public office bearer remuneration to lag behind,” the judge said.

Damaseb also admitted that the commission was doing a tools-of-trade review, a process that will stipulate ways and means in order to make the political office bearers more productive and efficient.

The Namibian is informed that the chief of police, prisons and defence were transferred from the POBC to the public service without consulting the commission, which according to those in the know, undermined the work of the commission.

Damaseb said the designated officials was moved to the public service at their own request. “The commission fully understood their reasons,” he said.

Speaking at a media briefing about the salaries in December 2012, Damaseb said the recommendations were not aimed at making political office bearers rich but it had to be done because, at the moment, they are paid ‘unfairly relative to their responsibilities’.

“Because of the erosionary effect of inflation on salaries of POBs over the years, the new remuneration should be seen as a salary adjustment, and not a salary increase,” he said.

The commission insisted that the President urgently needed to increase pay for political office bearers because failure to do so “will only prolong the pain”.

President Pohamba admitted last year that salaries and benefits of political office-bearers continued to lag behind over the years compared to civil servants and employees of state-owned enterprises but warned that politics is not a profession and that one cannot join politics to become rich.

Official documents from the commission show that after the 15% increase last year, the Prime Minister now earns N$1,2 million in non-cash and cash, which amounts to N$100 000 per month.

A minister earns N$940 000 which translates to N$78 000 per month. An ordinary MP in the National Assembly earns N$620 000 which translates to around N$51 000 per month.

Perks for MPs include transport allowances ranging from N$78 000 to N$106 000 for officials without State vehicles while ministers and deputies have Mercedes Benz vehicles.

The MPs also enjoy furniture allowances that range from N$31 000 to N$100 000 while the State also provides accommodation, entertainment, water and electricity allowances.

News about the impending recommendation by the commission comes about two months after Members of Parliament, for the second consecutive year, appealed for better perks such as housing and vehicle allowances as well as salaries because they are national leaders.

A report in a weekly newspaper yesterday quoted Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Charles Namoloh complaining about the unfair treatment to political leaders. He reportedly cried foul over the fact that they do not own land and that they should not be discriminated against when it comes to basic services.

Source : The Namibian