Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs are coming forward to declare they would not accept a Rf20,000 committee allowance on top of their salaries, if approved by parliament in the controversial MP Privileges Bill.
The MPs came forward in support of the party’s Chairperson MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, who yesterday withdrew her resolution to cut the allowance after the MDP Parliamentary Group voted in its favour.
“I was not at that meeting but I bowed to the party’s rules and took it out,” Mariya told Minivan News yesterday, adding that she had informed parliament that she did not wish to receive the allowance herself.
MDP’s internal branches were today criticising their parliamentary group following the decision.
Official website of MDP today carried a statement that MDP MPs Eva Abdulla, Hamid Abdul Gafoor, Ilyas Labeeb, Mohamed Gasam, Mohamed Nazim and Ibrahim Rasheed had also announced that they did not support the committee allowance and would not accept it.
Following Mariya’s withdrawal of the resolution opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf resubmitted it.
“I was the first one to raise it before Mariya, but the Speaker [DRP MP] Abdulla Shahid went with Mariya’s changes, perhaps because of the factional fight [the opposition] is having. When Mariya withdrew it I resubmitted it.” Mahlouf said yesterday.
Increasing MP salaries by Rf 20,000 would be a huge blow to parliament’s credibility, Mahlouf said, “as the public do not believe we are working to their expectations.” he said.
MDP MP Ahmed Easa also said he did not support the committee allowance, but he said the MPs who did support the committee allowance “have reasonable points.”
”It’s true what they say, MPs have so much to do with their salary each month. People can’t even imagine how many calls a MP receives each day asking for help,” Easa explained. ”Anyone in trouble from a area will run to their MP first, MPs have to lend money for people in need of medication, even for reasons such as people coming to get money to pay the school fees of their children.”
Easa also explained that most of the MPs were not from Male’, which forces them to live in rented apartments.
”As everyone knows, a standard apartment’s rent in Male’ will be Rf10000-20000 (US$750-US$1500), and what about all the phone calls that MPs have to make, that costs an additional Rf5000 (US$375) each month, and what about their family, wife and kids?” he asked, claiming that MPs “have to spend most of their salary on society.”
”As for me, there has never been a month that I have saved any amount of money in my bank account. I am ready to provide any document necessary to prove it,” he said.
However, Easa said due to the economic condition of the Maldives it was not wise to increase the salaries of MPs or any other institution of the government.
”The government’s recurrent expenditure may rise over 80 percent next year which means there will be only 20 percent of the budget to spend on development,” Easa said.