Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa has claimed that no MP really wanted to take the Rf20,000 committee allowance, or had so far received it, despite DRP MP’s Ahmed Mahlouf’s resolution to cut the allowance being dismissed yesterday.
Out of the 58 MPs present during the vote yesterday, 17 MPs voted to accept Mahlouf’s resolution and cut the committee allowance (+) while 20 voted in favor of keeping it (-).
16 MPs abstained from voting. 19 were absent, a quarter of the chamber.
Musthafa said that his intention was to throw the matter out of parliament, despite voting against the resolution to dismiss it.
‘’This resolution was not really presented to the parliament because they care about the citizens,’’ said Musthafa. ‘’There is no MP that wants the committee allowance, and so far nobody has even received the committee allowance.’’
Musthafa said he voted in favour of the committee allowance ‘’just to close the whole chapter for good.’’
‘’I don’t even touch my monthly salary, I give it all to my constituency,’’ he told Minivan News. ‘’I don’t think there is any MP that depends on their salary.’’
Musthafa also claimed that MPs did not work for their salary, but by working for the rights and needs of the people.
MP Musthafa was the only MP out of 10 contacted by Minivan News who commented on the matter, which has raised public ire and concern over the prevalence of MPs giving their salaries to constituents who approach them with medical and educational expenses.
MPs on both sides of the political fence have previously acknowledged to Minivan News that the expectation from the public is that MPs will hand out this money, particularly in response to demands for foreign medical treatment, “and it is hard to say no.”
Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair said earlier this year that the government “does not believe that MPs should spend their salary on welfare for their constituents – they are paid principally so they have a dependable source of income and are therefore less susceptible to corruption – but many instances of assistance being provided in this manner are in fact acts of corruption. Some MPs have not grasped that – they are not supposed to be giving charity.”
The committee allowances are derived from a new pay structure formulated by parliament under Article 102, which does not require Presidential ratification.
President Mohamed Nasheed in January refused to ratify the controversial MP Privileges Bill, which included additional financial benefits for MPs including health insurance for life, pensions after a single term of five years’ service, and concessions such as freedom from paying duty on imported cars.