What Your MP Wants

POLITICIANS do not only want better salaries so that they can smile all the way to the bank but they also want eternal VIP status, according to a report compiled by the Public Office Bearers’ Remuneration and Benefits Commission.

According to recommendations made to the Commission in 2012, a group put together by the National Assembly Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab proposed that retired lawmakers should be accorded VIP status for life, retain all the benefits as well as re-introduce a new retirement package.

As if these demands were not enough, the group also proposed that a parliamentary service commission that governs salaries and conditions of work of politicians be established since it is a common practice in Commonwealth countries.

“VIP status should be accorded to all public office bearers within the borders of Namibia after retirement. That the honour and integrity of parliamentarians be retained after retirement (such as housing, transport and furniture),” the group’s report said.

In addition, the Speaker’s report also suggested that the annual service bonus which was abolished by the Wage and Salaries Commission in the 90s should be re-introduced while a new retirement package for politicians be established by an Act of Parliament and implemented retrospectively to 1 April 2004.

The Speaker further proposed that parliamentarians should be given cellphones and airtime as well as have their housing allowance “improved significantly”.

He aised that backbenchers’ daily subsistence allowance should be equal to that of deputy ministers and that their travelling allowances should be improved especially during recess to enable them to meet their constituents.

“The medical aid benefits are insufficient and members can only be treated at State hospitals,” the politicians told the commission.

Recently, the MPs demanded that they be offered land at reduced prices.

Last week, the commission’s chairperson, Judge President Petrus Damaseb, said they had completed their review and would submit the recommendations to President Hifikepunye Pohamba for approval.

Sources, however, told The Namibian that the commission had already met the Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila. The finance ministry could not confirm this yesterday, though.

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, clothing and electricity allowances.

Just across the National Assembly is the National Council whose members also proposed to be given official mobile phones.

The executive arm of government which consist of the president, Cabinet, prime minister, ministers and their deputies complained about insufficient allowances such as medical aid, telephone, water and electricity.

According to the report, those in the executive who made recommendations also proposed that their housing allowances should be reviewed in relation to the market value of properties.

Their other worry was that salaries do not take into account experience, educational qualification, the size of ministry and responsibilities.

However, the POBC rebuffed the demand for salaries to be based on experience or number of years spent in government, saying it contradicted a government commissioned report of 1995 which rejected the notion that a minister should be paid more based on the number of years he or she has served in public service.

Source : The Namibian