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MPs’ wage bill balloons to N$55m

2015-01-09  Mathias Haufiku

MPs’ wage bill balloons to N$55m
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"By Mathias Haufiku WINDHOEK-As from March this year, taxpayers will be hit with a N$55 million bill to cater for the monthly salaries of the 104 Members of Parliament – an increase of N$14 million from the current bill. Currently, the basic wage bill of 78 Members of Parliament stands at N$41 million. Overhauling of the country’s constitution last year, a process that came with an increase of National Assembly seats from 78 to 104, necessitated the increase in the MPs’ wage bill. The monthly basic salary of an MP is currently N$52,596.42, which includes a basic salary of N$34,460.50 and allowances such as transport (N$7,870), water and electricity (N$210), telephone (N$72) and a housing allowance of N$9,983.92. This follows a salary adjustment that was effected during the course of last year. Before adjustments were effected last year, the wage bill for MPs was N$31 million for the 78 MPs, as they each received N$39,626.75. These figures are contained in official salary documents in New Era’s possession. The new N$55 million bill excludes the salaries of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the rest of the National Assembly staff. It also excludes extra earnings for those members who are committee chairpersons and their deputies as well as party chief whips and their deputies who receive additional funding for the extra responsibilities they have to perform. Last year’s salary adjustment went ahead despite MPs facing public outrage after news of such increments entered the public domain. What sparked further outrage was the fact that MPs continued to ignore the requirement that they must declare and register their assets to parliament. This is meant to keep at bay possible conflicts of interest. Lawmakers have not declared their assets and interests to the National Assembly since 2009. Cabinet ministers too have over the years been reluctant to declare their assets to parliament, claiming that they already declared to their appointing authority, President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Civil society activists have, however, argued that declarations made to the presidency are not for public consumption, hence the need for lawmakers to declare their interests to parliament, which is open for scrutiny by those who voted them into power. Political parties have also failed to submit annual reports showing how money received from parliament was used. Last year, New Era reported that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director-General Paulus Noa was worried that the absence of an asset declaration register for lawmakers negatively affects the operations of the ACC and called for a law which compels lawmakers to declare their assets on a regular basis. “ACC has been advocating for a law on asset declaration with regard to public officers at management level and members of parliament,” said Noa when he expressed dissatisfaction over the absence of an asset declaration register for lawmakers at the time. He said he was particularly worried when it comes to his institution having to investigate a Member of Parliament, saying: ""When a need arises to investigate an MP, it becomes difficult if there are no records of their assets. Therefore, if there is a law compelling them to register and they do not declare their assets, it will be easy to conduct investigations when the need arises.”"
2015-01-09  Mathias Haufiku

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