Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday approved a lump sum of Rf160,000 (US$10,376) for every MP, in committee allowance back pay for January through August.
The decision to approve the Rf20,000 (US$1200) monthly allowances in December 2010 was met with protests and widespread public indignation. However in June this year, parliament rejected a resolution proposed by opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf to scrap the allowance.
The back payment of the allowance will cost the state up to Rf 12.32 million (US$800,000), following a year in which a quarter of all parliament sessions were disrupted and at a time when the country faces a crippling budget deficit.
A Majlis official, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed to Minivan News that following its decision, the committee asked the Speaker to issue the lump sum allowance with MPs’ salaries this month.
Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim, chairman of the PAC and parliamentary group leader of the minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA), was not responding at time of press.
Article 102 of the constitution states that parliament shall determine the salaries and allowances of the President, Vice President, cabinet ministers, members of parliament, members of the Judiciary, and members of the independent institutions.
The opposition-majority PAC decided earlier this month that MPs who attend less than 50 percent of committee meetings would not receive the allowance while those who attended between 50 and 75 percent would receive Rf10,000 (US$648) a month.
While MPs who attend over 75 percent of meetings would receive the full amount, those who did not wish to take the allowance would be allowed to refuse it.
Few MPs that Minivan News contacted today wished to comment on record regarding the controversial allowances.
Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed told Minivan News that he was not informed of the Public Accounts Committee decision.
“There was a decision to institute committee allowance, I know. [But] I am not in support of a committee allowance at all. And if there is any back pay, that would be awfully irresponsible,” he said.
Nasheed added that he had written to the Speaker requesting that he “not be given it and that it may not be deposited with my salary.”
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Hamza, a member of the PAC, meanwhile said that he too was not aware of the decision.
If a decision had been made, said Hamza, it must have been done while he was either absent or had stepped out of the committee meeting.
“I do not think it is a good idea at all,” he said. “I have expressed my disapproval at the committee when it was first discussed.”
Hamza added that he did not want the allowance. Other MDP MPs on the committee did not respond at time of press.
With the committee allowance, in addition to their existing salaries, Maldivian MPs earn just US$215 a month less than MPs in Sweden.