Transparency asks authorities to investigate MPs for bribery over committee allowance justifications

Transparency Maldives has strongly condemned remarks by MPs justifying their newly inflated allowances by claiming that large portions of their salaries were spent on meeting demands from constituents.

MPs from both major parties have previously admitted that a large, usually undisclosed proportion of their salaries is spent on medical treatment, education and other requests from their electorate – a symptom of an enduring culture of patronage that persists in the Maldives – and confessed that ignoring these demands in such a culture of expectation is extremely difficult.

However, “Transparency Maldives believes such actions fall under article 3 of of the anti-corruption law and article 13 of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act regarding bribery,” Transparency said. “If such acts have taken place Transparency Maldives calls upon the relevant authorities to conduct investigations and take legal measures.”

The statement notes that 16 MPs have so far informed parliament’s secretary-general that they did not wish to take the Rf 20,000 (US$1300) allowance.

Today a group of citizens concerned about parliament’s committee allowances gathered in front of the Finance Ministry and presented a petition signed by more than 1000 people to the ministry, later intercepting President Nasheed as he left the Ministry.

The President spoke with the gathered activists and was requested to sign the petition himself, but asked why he should sign a petition that was to be presented to him anyway.

President Nasheed reportedly told the group that the government had no other choice but to issue the funds for the committee allowances as it had been already approved by parliament. The Rf20,000 allowance was initially approved on December 28, 2010 as part of a pay scale recommended by parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

Nasheed explained that it was not a matter of whether he supported the allowance, but that “when parliament makes it legally binding the government does not have any discretion [to overrule the parliament’s decision].”

Project Cordinator of Transparency Maldives Aiman Rasheed told Minivan News that the campaign against the committee allowance will continue and there was hope for success.

”Today we presented the Finance Ministry 1365 letters signed by concerned citizens and eight cabinet members, plus high-profile people across the country,” he said.

”We have made plans to continue the letter campaign and to make the citizens aware of the impacts of this committee allowance.”

MP salaries have increased 18-fold since 2004, according to a graph released by the NGO.

The committee allowance was Rf18 million, Rasheed said. ”In comparison, the budget to combat drugs is Rf 14 million, the budget subsiding the fishing industry is Rf12 million, medical services Rf18 million and the budget for small and medium businesses is Rf16 million,” he said, adding that these areas would be impacted by the increased expenditure on MPs.

Opposition Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom on his Facebook page said receiving the allowance made him feel like “Robin Hood”. Responding to criticism that such a justification would taint future elections by making them unfair for political challengers, he replied that “when the President appoints ‘directors’ for paper-companies and pays millions in public money to promote MDP…. that’s very unfair too. Why don’t we see any protest on that? This is my way of ‘protest’ for irresponsible ‘politically aligned’ spending of the government.”

The government has previously contested that expenditure on the 244 political appointees in the executive branch represented only two percent of the state’s wage bill, or Rf99 million (US$6.4 million) a year, a figure DR Mausoom has previously claimed represents “the tip of the iceberg”.

“The whole country was corporatised,” he explained. “There’s a roads corporation and all sorts of corporations. The people appointed to the boards of these corporations are all purely political appointees. They were appointed directly by the President to promote a political agenda.”

Dr Mausoom told Minivan News today that the moment he received the allowance he would start spending the same amount on his constituency for social projects.

“There is no benefit for the people in keeping the money in the government’s treasury because they will spend it all on political appointees,” he said.

“The real issue is that one institution has too much power. Parliament should not have the power to set their own salaries.”

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12 thoughts on “Transparency asks authorities to investigate MPs for bribery over committee allowance justifications”

  1. MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom talk’s crap, if he feels that president is making paper companies and appointing board of directors for political motives he and his party (DRP) should have blocked this since up to few days back his party had majority in the parliament chambers.
    The truth is that Dr. Mausoom of Kelaa is useless brainless guy who won’t to be in his good old days. Remember Dr. Mausoom people like you will never be in future governments and Majlis too.

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  2. I agree with Mausoom. The real issue is that MPs have the power to decide on their salaries and allowances and those we elected are a greedy, corrupt, attention seeking bunch.

    If the members had voted responsibly; including Mariya and some other members of the ruling party, initially; we would not have come to this in the first place.

    MPs got a second chance when Mahloof forwarded the motion to omit the committee allowance. But, instead of supporting him, some MPs accused him of playing a political stunt.

    Well how about the 16 members who've said in WRITING that they do not wish to take the allowance? Isn't this a political stunt? What amazes me is that the intellectual men and women who organised the campaign are failing to see beyond this. At any given time they can choose to take the allowance.

    We need to go beyond this. For instance, apart from monitoring members' attendance we can also keep track of members who speak to the issues on the floor, those that waste time being personal with each other, those who put their own interests first and those who vote for the common good of the public.

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  3. I suggest we hand over the entire state budget to Mausoom as he is the only one capable of spending it on the citizens, or else this government might spend it on political appointees.

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  4. So Dr Mausoom thinks two wrongs make it a right. Is he a child? Even if the salaries paid by MDP to paper companies is high, that does not make what he is doing right. It is illegal and immoral and shows how little brain some people really have even if they are called Dr.

    And whether you are giving your money under the disguise of healthcare support or as social projects, what you are actually doing is bribing your contituents to voting for you next time. This is bribing beyond any doubt. This money will be spent around the core supporters of Mausoom anyway if he does indeed spend it...

    We also must remember that by spending this MRF20000 on his supporters, he will now be able to pocket the same amount of 20000 from his overly paid normal pay that would have been paid to keep his rented supoprt base going... So these remarks are just a thinly placed veil to keep the truth hidden...

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  5. I think I should also get a committee allowance. I am in the Minivan News Commenting Committee. My attendance may not be 100 percent but it will be good enough to pay me my allowance.

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  6. Mausoon, the MP for Haaalifu Kela constituency is foolish guy who rattle nonsense like colonel mad dog Gadhafi. The problem with Mausoom is that he won’t to return to his heyday position.
    The theme for Mausoom’s PhD thesis was ass-licking and sneaking.

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  7. @ hassan ahmed

    I notice that you have a personal grudge against many people. That explains why you are such a bitter person.

    I tell you its not a healthy thing to do. It can only affect your own personality.

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  8. Perhaps Dr Mausoom should re-read Robin Hood. From my understanding, Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor, not the other way round.

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  9. i see no difference in the ex.president spending thousands of state money on his relatives and close allies for madical and shopping trips and current MP's spending state money on their constituants effectively buying their loyalty. MP's have admitted to this and it tantamounts to bribery.

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  10. Dear Dr Mausoom,

    A single person running social projects would certainly turn out being biased, especially given the fact that any MP would be politically inclined. That is why there are Institutions with committee's to run social projects.

    All this money is non other than going to personal use, and quite the rip off I should say. Any sane man would agree.

    Now I'm inclined to insult you by saying your a corrupt pig.

    Good day mate.

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