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Parliament plans to raise MPs’ pay

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By Yasiin Mugerwa

Posted  Wednesday, April 2   2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Living large. An annual increment of Shs11 million per MP is in the pipeline if the Treasury okays a request by the Parliamentary Commission.

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Parliament.
Each Member of Parliament will have their salaries increased by Shs11 million annually if the Treasury okays a request by the Parliamentary Commission.
The request for an extra Shs43 billion is captured in the Budget Framework Paper, a blue-print for the 2014/15 budget. Whereas Shs19 billion had been provided for salaries, the Clerk to Parliament, Ms Jane Kibirige, has written to the Finance Ministry saying the amount is not enough.
She said the extra money is needed because Parliament will start consolidating MPs’ pay in the new financial year. In the new arrangement, both salaries and allowances for the 386 MPs will be paid at once unlike the current system where the remittances are done separately.

“This increment is partially funded by the amount of subsistence allowance formally paid to members from the non-wage budget,” Ms Kibirige said in her submission.
Currently, each MP earns a basic salary of about Shs3 million, which is taxed. They also get a subsistence allowance of Shs4.5 million, mileage allowance of Shs3.8 million, constituency allowance of Shs3.5 million, gratuity of Shs950,000, which is also taxed, and town run allowance of about Shs1 million.

If the government agrees to the request, the increment (Shs11 million) on the monthly pay for an MP will be equivalent to a 40-month salary of a primary teacher who on average earns Shs273,000 a month.

For the coming financial year, the Finance ministry had allocated Shs237 billion to Parliament. A total of Shs19b would go to salaries, Shs208b to the non-wage sector and Shs8.9b for development. The Parliament staff will also benefit from the proposed pay rise.

Ms Kibirige, however, says this allocation is inadequate, falling short of salaries by Shs43b, non-wage by Shs21b and the development budget is less by Shs46 billion. Besides the salary increments, she noted that other increases are linked to recently promoted staff, recruitment of new staff and rise in foreign trips for MPs. The MPs in 2012/13 financial spent more than Shs15 billion on disputed foreign trips.

Asked what he thought of the proposed increment of their salaries, Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga (Ind) said it would portray legislators as “suckers”.

MPs oppose move
“At this point we have become like suckers and this trend surely is not politically healthy for us and more critically for the nation,” he said, before asking the Executive to deliver services so that MPs cease performing government roles in their constituencies.

Mr Eddie Kwizera, a member of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, said the request for pay rise “disguised” as consolidation of MPs pay is a testimony that the country needs a Salaries Commission to harmonise issues of remuneration.

Parliament’s spokesperson Helen Kawesa, who confirmed that there is an on-going process to consolidate MPs pay, advised those aggrieved to contact the Parliamentary Commission for discussion.

Plan defended
She said the commission must have considered the standard of living and inflation before proposing a pay rise for MPs, adding that the Constitution allows Parliament to determine its emoluments.

“Parliament is not selfish, as a matter of fact, over the years we have been at the forefront of advocating increased salaries for teachers and health workers but government always said there is no money,” Ms Kawesa said.
The chairperson of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Mr Steven Tashobya (Kajara) whose docket oversees the Parliamentary Commission expenditures, said he was not aware of the proposed pay rise for MPs since they are yet to discuss the policy statement for the coming financial year.

However, other committee members said when the matter comes up before the committee, they will task the commission to justify the request for the additional Shs43 billion to increase MPs’ pay.

THE KEY PLAYERS speak out
Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga. “At this point we have become like suckers and this trend surely is not politically healthy for us and more critically for the nation.”

Bufumbira East MP Eddie Kwizera. “I can’t support the request for Shs43 billion to increase our pay. Those salary increases are for those earning below Shs500,000 like teachers and nurses.”

Parliament’s spokesperson Helen Kawesa. “Parliament is not selfish, as a matter of fact, over the years we have been at the forefront of advocating increased salaries for teachers and health workers but government always said there is no money.”

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