A group of concerned citizens, many of them also members of local non-government and civil society organisations, protested outside parliament today against the recently proposed increase in parliamentary committee members’ allowances, and lump sum back payments of Rf 140,000 (US$9100).
Leaflets scattered across parliament grounds highlighted that MPs were earning Rf 82,500 (US$5350) a month in 2011 compared to Rf 4500 (US$290) in 2004, an effective 18-fold increase.
“Parliament members already have a salary of Rf62,000, and to give them more money in this way is not necessary,” said NGO Transparency Maldives Project Coordinator, Aiman Rasheed. “We feel that giving this allowance for a whole year, and during months when Parliament isn’t even in session, is unacceptable.”
Police had blocked roads close to parliament this morning, and were waiting when protesters appeared at 1:15 pm. Approximately 25 citizens attended the protest, and were quickly penned into a side street away from the building.
Protesters waved poster boards and passed a megaphone for rally calls. However MPs avoided the protest by leaving the building through the back door.
Rasheed said Transparency had been told that if 39 of the 77 MPs refused the allowance, the Public Accounts Committee, which proposed the raise, would submit a motion to reconsider the proposal.
“Most of the people we’ve spoken to have said they would not accept the motion,” said Rasheed.
Local NGOs and CSOs protested the raise near the tsunami memorial last Saturday, August 27. Assembling at 4:30 pm, representatives distributed fliers showing the steep rise in MP allowance rates.
“MPs do not need to be paid more money to do committee work!” read the flyer. “It is the duty of MPs. It is one of the most important responsibilities that has to be carried out by MPs.”
Saturday’s protest made use of Male’s nightly motorcycle circuit of the city to reach a large percentage of the population.
Today’s significantly smaller turnout may be a side effect of the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid, which begins tomorrow August 30. Reports say that many boats have already left Male for other islands.
The deadline for voting on the proposed allowance is 6 September. As of today, 17 MPs have said they would not accept it.
They include: Mohamed Gasam, Ibrahim Rasheed, Hamid Abdul Gafoor, Mariya Ahmed Didi, Mohamed Nazim, Illyas Labeeb, Mohamed Aslam, Ahmed Sameer, ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Hussein Waheed, Alhan Fahmy, ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed and Eva Abdulla of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) along with Speaker Abdulla Shahid and Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed.