A group of concerned citizens and members of civil society organisations launched a protest today in response to parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) decision last week to issue a lump sum of Rf140,000 (US$9,000) as committee allowance back pay for January through July this year.
If the PAC decision stands, in addition to a monthly salary of Rf62,500 (US$4,000), at the end of August each MP would receive a lump sum of Rf160,000 (US$10,386) as committee allowance.
At a time when the country faces a crippling budget deficit, the back payment of the allowance will cost the state up to Rf12.32 million (US$800,000), rising to Rf76.23 million (US$4.9 million) in wages for 77 MPs for the whole year.
Gathered near the tsunami memorial after 4:30pm today, the protesting citizens handed out flyers to passersby with a graph showing the steep rise of MPs’ remuneration from Rf4,500 (US$292) a month in 2004 to Rf82,500 (US$5,350) a month in 2011.
“MPs do not need to be paid more money to do committee work!” reads the flyer. “It is the duty of MPs. It is one of the most important responsibilities that has to be carried out by MPs.”
As this was “clearly stated in Majlis’ law,” drawing an additional Rf20,000 from public coffers “is a gross injustice to the Maldivian people.”
Aiman Rasheed from Transparency Maldives told Minivan News that the protestors believed the decision to institute a committee allowance was symptomatic of “inherent problems in the entire system.”
“With such a high budget deficit and high inflation, we do not accept that the hike [in remuneration] is at all responsible,” he explained.
Aiman dismissed the argument that a committee allowance would improve parliament productivity: “The rules of Majlis committees, how they function, the relationship of the parties and procedures on proposing bills should be changed. Basically, they should become better people.”
For productivity to increase, said Aiman, parliament as an institution should function better.
Carrying a placard calling on her MP to not accept the allowance, Salma Fikry, executive board member of NGO Democracy House, said that the “pretext [of improving productivity] the MPs are using is utterly ridiculous.”
“The civil servants are in more close proximity to the public, so what about the productivity of civil servants?” she asked.
Salma argued that as committee meetings were “part of MPs’ duties,” the decision to issue Rf20,000 as committee allowances “is an injustice done to the Maldivian people.”
Aiman meanwhile asserted that the decision to issue a lump sum for seven months cast doubts on MPs “sincerity” as each MP would receive the back pay regardless of attendance.
Moreover, Aiman pointed out that parliamentary committees did not function for two months of the current session over a partisan dispute regarding the revision of committee composition.
“These things need to be talked about,” he said. “What we are trying to do is bring this issue to the spotlight and help the public understand […] With a constitution based on parliamentary supremacy, nothing in the country can go right if the MPs aren’t responsible. We want to create grassroots demand about what is going in Majlis and for the public to be aware of it.”
Salma however said she doubted if MPs would be moved by the protests to scrap the controversial allowances.
“Because in January this year we launched quite a strong campaign against the Parliamentary Privileges Act and we also spoke about the committee allowance during that campaign,” she explained. “But what we see today is that civic action is not bearing what it should in this democracy of ours.”
This was the case because state institutions such as the People’s Majlis were “too strong” and “has a lot of vested interest and a lot corruption,” she said.
Aiman concurred that MPs “do not bow to civic pressure” but the NGOs and concerned citizens hoped to “equip the public with relevant knowledge” to hold parliament accountable and achieve a reduction in “the almost exponential [year-on-year] growth” of salaries in the state budget.
“Thirdly, [we want] the public to understand these issues and demand accountability,” he said. “Fourth, we want to broaden the engagement of citizens with the People’s Majlis. And to let the People’s Majlis know that the people are watching you and that the people do care.”
11 thoughts on “NGOs, concerned citizens launch protest against MPs’ committee allowance”
Guys don't worry MPs will eat the haft budget and another haft Anni will distibute to MDP activists.
You will get ZERO money!
WELCOME TO NEW MALDIVES
In the first 5 months Inland Revenue Authority received $23million, MPs pay for 5 months with the new benefits cost just $2million (assuming $4.9mil for this year is accurate-there are no more pay rises).
The honourable MPs earn 8.6% of the govt revenue.
I think this is a disgrace, we must give them some more...like 50% of the revenue?? The MPs paltry salary is clearly not enough, its not like they are big business owners, resort owners, land owners etc.
Meanwhile we will join some of the honourable MPs to protest against the cost of living, dollar shortage, Sula Shiraz, GMR etc etc.
The blame should be taken by the people for this barbaric act of the MP's. We voted for these MP's never questioning their loyalty to the people and the country. The irony of this is that some of us even sold our votes for a quick buck. When Qasim was presiding over the parliament the amendments brought to the constitution gave a lot of power to the MP's. This was the work of the MDP fools who at the time thought that they would not come to power in 2008. So as a way to gain power they thought by giving MP's all the power and then winning the majority of the parliament would help them achieve their goal.. and today its becoming a reality.We never gave a second to think how good we had things back in the former presidents rule. Sure, he may have done things wrong, but overall everything was done in the best interest of the people. HAIL PRESIDENT MAUMOON.
It is pathetic; whom to blame? The Islanders sold their vote for 500Mrf, why should you harp about this! Maldivians deserve these sorts’ things.
"I hereby swear a solemn oath, as God is my witness, that I shall plunder and pillage, working against the best interests of the Maldivian people, and ensure that mine and mine alone interests along with the interests of the highest bidder will be represented and protected by myself in the halls of Parliament. Amen"
That's the actual oath these oafs in Majlis took when they got elected. It's our own fault for electing them in the first place. Now it's our responsibility to take them out of there. The democratic movement/revolution didn't end when we elected Gayyoom out. Needs be that the Maldivian people must rise up against the fat cats in the "Member's Majlis" and make it a true "People's Majlis".
We need to pay them well. They spend valuble time serving us . We need to learn to appreciate their work . Typical maldivians ...u all need to be ashamed of yourselves
jeez, this whole thing is a disaster huh..Hey all, did anyone hear about any MP who refuse or do not want the raise/allowance? guess not. who wud say no to money dho.
You see, thats the face of the civil servants. I swear if they were cannibals, they wud sit and dine wth our brains and call it 'thinking with the public' The dollar rates and all changed..but since then has any of the MPs or politician had the guts to increase the general income rate????or the incomplete tourism bills and laws?
I tell you what we are doin. we are wasting our time commenting on these articles. truth is, theres nothing we can do, and nothing we can say changes anythn. they will get the high pay so dont waste y'all time. Maldives is yet to give birth to true politicians and country loves...at the moment we dont have any.
Interesting. As always the same people are out there protesting. Well done to you guys although small in number.
With the way Damas Shihab, Ahmed Wajeeh, Topy and rankokaa Naseer raise issues on face book one would think that they'll be at the forefront.
shame you on mps
NGO's r doing their bit by taking the initiative and bringing the issue to public attention. We should all support them! These expenses are simply unaffordable and is not value for money. I would much rather spend this money in the health or education sector. I think we need a review of the Majlis as a whole. Do we need 11 MPs for Male'? Do we need certain academic qualifications to become an MP? Can we trust MPs to regulate themselves?
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