Saturday April 5 2014

MPs, learn to live on small pay like others

The 9th Parliament once again finds itself at the centre of yet a new controversy over their demand for salary raise. This week, “honourable” members of Parliament were reported to have asked the Ministry of Finance to increase their emoluments.

If approved, the move would push Parliament’s overall budget by Shs43 billion with the wage component alone claiming nearly half above what is currently being provided by the Treasury.

The MPs claim they have not increased their salaries for a long time but who else has received a huge salary raise like them? In fact, by hiding most of their pay in allowances, they avoid paying taxes especially Pay As You Earn (PAYE) which other workers pay off their meagre earnings.

On average, the least paid MP takes home a minimum of Shs15 million a month in a consolidated package excluding allowances for foreign travel. While this might appear low compared to their Kenyan counterparts, it dwarfs the pay for most of the other public workers such as teachers, doctors, soldiers, police, prison warders and university lecturers, among others.

As legislators, MPs must show leadership by working towards fairness and parity for they buy their basic needs from the same markets where teachers, who earn a paltry Shs273,000 a month also go.

While people who labour legitimately deserve reasonable compensation for their services, the political class in this country has continued to enjoy the lion’s share of the wage Bill as the majority of probably the more hard working citizenry in critical sectors of the economy live on inferior remuneration.

They [politicians] have received better vehicles from the state on account that the Ugandan roads are bad as if other people drive on different roads. They received iPads and salary increases on account of facilitating their legislative duties yet they are often absent from the House when critical legislation is on table.

Honourable MPs, be patient like other workers.