Standing committee proposes merging MP living allowance with basic salary

The Standing Committee of the Parliament has decided to propose that the Public Finance Committee cancel the living allowance of MVR20,000 (US$1,297) paid to MPs, recommending that the amount be added to their basic salary instead.

MPs currently receive a basic salary of MVR42,500 (US$2,756) and a living allowance of MVR20,000 (US$1,297). They also receive an additional allowance of MVR20,000 (US$1,297) for attending committee meetings, although some MPs have declined from taking it. The total average monthly earnings for an MP comes to MVR 82,500 (US$5,350).

Chair of the Standing Committee, Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem stated, “Article 102 of the Constitutions says that the parliament can decide on these salaries. That is why the committee is making this recommendation to the Public Finance Committee.”

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.

Abdul Raheem further stated that although the basic salary would then increase to MVR62,500 (US$4,053), the take-home pay would be less than that for an average MP.

“An MP will be getting a take-home pay of MVR58,135 (US$3,770), while the Deputy Speaker will get MVR71,000 (US$4,604) and the Speaker will get MVR73,150 (US$4,744). An MP’s pay has to be equal to that of a High Court judge, while the deputy speaker’s salary is equivalent to the pay of a Supreme Court judge. The Speaker will be paid at the same level as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” Abdul Raheem explained.

“We have not really increased our salaries. We are just streamlining decisions on the matter which have been previously made in parliament. We will not be taking a penny more than now. It is only the salary structure that we are altering.”

When asked about the impacts the change in amount of the basic salary would have on pensions, Abdul Raheem responded saying “No change will come to it at all. Yes, the living allowance will be merged and made as part of the basic salary. However, the pensionable pay will remain at MVR42,500.”

Meanwhile Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News today that he personally did not support the living allowance amendment.

“The public is often concerned about MPs’ salaries and privileges. I don’t think the parliament should be so often adjusting our pay in this manner. DRP always gives its members a free whip as far as MP’s privileges are concerned, so I can confidently say that I will not support this change,” he said.

Mausoom added that if the living allowance was merged with the basic salary, one notable impact would be that the take-home salary of an MP would be somewhat decreased.

“Seven percent of basic pay is deducted as pension, and then the state matches it with an equal part. If the living allowance is included in the basic pay, it would then become part of the pensionable wage.”

“It’s not about whether the pay is going higher or lower. I don’t think we should keep on adjusting our pay up or down,” Mausoom said.

Minivan News tried contacting MP Ahmed Nazim and MP Ahmed Amir. Both members were not responding to calls at the time of press.