Parliament today passed revisions to the pay scheme approved by the Finance Committee for senior officials in the executive, judiciary and independent institutions.
The revisions included a MVR 5,000 (US$324) pay raise for board members of the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA).
Article 102 of the constitution states, “The President, Vice President, members of the Cabinet, members of the People’s Majlis, including the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, members of the Judiciary, and members of the Independent Commissions and Independent Offices shall be paid such salary and allowances as determined by the People’s Majlis.”
The task of determining salaries and allowances is entrusted to the Finance Committee under section 100(a) of the parliamentary rules of procedures.
Among the changes brought by the committee to the pay structure passed on December 28, 2010 was a monthly phone allowance of MVR 1,000 (US$65) for MPs, ministers, judges of the High Court and Supreme Court, members of independent commissions, the Prosecutor General, the Attorney General and the Governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority.
If the phone bill exceeds MVR 1000, the officials would be allowed to claim compensation for the cost of phone calls made for official purposes.
The Finance Committee also decided to discontinue monthly salaries for drivers of cabinet minister’s cars (MVR 7,500) as well as an allowance for petrol cost (MVR 1,000). Ministers would be instructed to settle the expenses out of their salaries from April 2013 onward.
However, the committee did not terminate similar expenses for other officials provided state cars.
The committee meanwhile approved raising monthly salaries of Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) board members by MVR 5,000 (US$324) and the health insurance premium for judges and their parents from MVR 4,500 (US$292) to MVR 7,000 (US$454).
MIRA board members would now receive a monthly pay of MVR 15,500 (US$1,005).
Followings its review of the pay scheme and consideration of requests, the Finance Committee however decided not to increase the salaries of Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) board members.
The committee also decided against making any changes to the remuneration of MPs.
Moreover, requests by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for a committee allowance as well as an additional allowance for Criminal Court judges ruling on extension of detention for criminal suspects were denied.
The revised pay scheme was passed with 38 votes in favour, two against and five abstentions.
Presenting the Finance Committee report (Dhivehi) to the floor, MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said the change to phone allowance was made in light of issues raised by the Auditor General’s Office in various audit reports regarding the waste of public funds and phone credit transfers.
The decision was made to impose one rule and limit for all institutions and reduce costs, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Nolhivaram said.
As a recommendation to reduce state expenditure, the Finance Committee also decided to advise the government to merge the Customs Integrity Commission and the Police Integrity Commission to form a “National Integrity Commission” with oversight over all state institutions, Nasheed said.
Nasheed added that eliminating salary for minister’s drivers and fuel allowance would save 89 percent from the budget item.
Meanwhile, on December 23, the Finance Ministry issued a circular instructing government offices to arrange a medical insurance scheme for ministers, their spouses and children under 18 years of age to receive medical treatment in the Maldives as well as overseas in SAARC and ASEAN nations.
The offices were asked to make arrangements from their budgets for the health insurance scheme from the Allied Insurance Company with an annual premium of MVR 12,500 (US$810).