Zitto na Demokrasia

Zitto na Demokrasia

Posts Tagged ‘sitting allowance

Scrap Sitting Allowances, Create Jobs

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By Zitto Kabwe

Our Parliament

For the last two weeks there has been a fierce debate on allowances given to members of parliament fuelled by recent revelations by two leading dailies Mwananchi and The Citizen. The revelations were first denied by the Clerk of the National Assembly but later in a swift move confirmed by the Speaker.

Members of Parliament herein referred as MPs are entitled to various allowances in conducting their affairs. According to the National Assembly administration act these are subsistence allowance, travel allowances, constituency allowance and for those holding parliamentary portfolios a responsibility allowance. Sitting allowance is paid to MPs everyday he or she attends a committee meeting or parliamentary debate. However this allowance is not mentioned in the law. Currently an MP receives TZS 70,000 ($40) a day as sitting allowance.

A member of Parliament in Tanzania receives a monthly salary as a renumeration for the legislative, representative and oversight role he or she does. On top of that he or she is paid for sitting! Sounds ridiculous for sure.

During the 5th session of Parliament which ended in November 2011, MPs lobbied for an increase in allowances claiming that costs of living have skyrocketed. MPs are paid per diem to cover costs of living, but in an interesting move the Parliamentary service commission passed a resolution to increase a sitting allowance to TZS 200,000 ($130) a day.

Sitting allowance doesn’t address the challenge of cost of living, it is subsistence allowance that is pegged to costs of living. I asked one of my colleague who serves in the Parliamenatary Service Commission about this and she said, per diem applies to all civil servants so an increment to it would mean an increment to all civil servants so it must be avoided. And they did avoid and went ahead directing The Clerk to effect new rates. The Clerk refused as the law requires that the President of the United Republic approve the new increment in writing. Hence the divided stand between the Clerk and the Speaker. When the news reached investigative and news hungry editors of the media the difference between them was all out and the public outcry was huge.

The President hasnt approved the new increment so far, some credible sources say that Speaker didn’t even attempt to send the requests to the President. The Parliamentary Service Commission met over the weekend and revoked their proposal. Media has played its role and the public won. A senior parliamentary staff told me the other day, that the whole matter was a hoax. MPs pressured the Speaker to increase allowances and even threatened her that she will be relieved from her post. Speaker in turn pressured the Clerk to pay new rates contrary to the laws and regulations. Public through media pressured both of them and the President did not dare increase the sitting allowances rate. So far the public has won.

Is it a temporary victory? Definitely yes.

The highest prize is scrapping sitting allowances regime altogether. Paying an MP for sitting isn’t justified. The public, NGOs/civil society organisations and the media should campaign towards this to the very end. The allowances culture is killing our Nation as it misdirect public funds from public investments to current spending. It kills our working culture as public office holders keep attending meeting after meeting to earn sitting allowances instead of working.

Our country faces mountain of challenges, it requires us to work and create an enabling environment for economic activities that create jobs, add value to our produce, increase our exports, produce more food and generate more electricity. Otherwise no one will call us a nation.

Scrap sitting allowances, create jobs to the people.

Written by zittokabwe

December 13, 2011 at 3:15 PM

MPs sitting allowance up 185pc

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By The Citizen Reporter
Dar es Salaam. The daily sitting allowance for an MP has been increased by more close to over 285.7 per cent, The Citizen has been reliably informed.

Our Parliament

Some sources who attended the just-ended fifth Parliament told this paper that the amount has gone up by almost three times –  from Sh70,000 to a whopping Sh200,000 per day.

The latest adjustment has effectively increased the amount of cash that goes to a legislator pocket daily during a Bunge session to Sh330,000 because, besides the Sh200,000 for sitting, they also receive a per diem of Sh80,000 plus Sh50,000 for fuel.

However, when contacted, Clerk of the National Assembly Thomas Kashillila said his office was not aware of the said increase.

“I understand there was talk among MPs to have their allowances raised, but if that has been effected, my office hasn’t been formally informed yet.

Therefore, I cannot confirm that MPs’ allowances have gone up,” he said over his mobile phone yesterday. Dr Kashillila advised The Citizen to check up with the Speaker of the National Assembly Anne Makinda or her deputy, Mr Job Ndugai, for a precise response but our efforts were in vain for the two officials’ phones were not reachable despite repeated attempts.

Though many MPs who attended the just- ended Parliament session were hesitant to comment on the matter, impeccable sources confirmed to this paper that the sitting allowances have nearly tripled.

The MPs’ hesitation to comment on the raise could be on account of uneasiness stemming from the recent debate in which the opposition Chadema pressed for abolition of sitting allowances for the lawmakers.

When contacted, the Leader of Official Opposition in the Parliament, Mr Freeman Mbowe, saidthe latest raise clearly showed that the government has not taken note of Chadema’s sentiments over allowances.

He maintained that his party’s stand over allowances should not be personalised as it was national resources that are being used to overpay a few individuals while the majority of Tanzanians languished in abject poverty.

“We abide by our stand since the time the daily sitting allowances stood at Sh70,000. When we issued statements contending the allowance, some people, and a section of the media took the issue as a Chadema agenda, but we wanted to expose the misuse of taxpayers’ money,” he said adding:

“We have MPs’ pocketing Sh200,000 as sitting allowance and then there are some people in the government who are paid between Sh400,000 and Sh1 million as daily allowance.”

Mr Mbowe said personally, he would not know for certain that there has been a rise in sitting allowances for MPs since he doesn’t collect his.

“Maybe the new allowances were discussed in the House at the time I was attending  my cases in Arusha… I was only present during a few sessions towards the end of the debate on the Constitutional Review Act Bill,” he said.

The increase in MPs’ allowance comes at a time when the majority of ordinary Tanzanians are lamenting over the cost of living against their frozen incomes. Hardships for the mwananchi are reflected on the two-digit inflation which at the moment stands at around 17.9 per cent as announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently. The decision to increase MPs’ sitting allowance is also said to contradict the government’s five years development plan, unveiled mid this year, one of whose agenda was to reduce allowances.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda is also on record as telling the Parliament during the Budget session that the government had agreed to a proposal to slash allowances.

When contacted, Felix Mkosamali (Kibondo-NCCR Mgeuzi) and Rev Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban – Chadema) declined to discuss the matter in detail and said MPs have not been officially informed of the decision to increase their sitting allowances. “I have not received any letter informing me that my allowance has been increased. I will inquire and once I get a categorical answer I will make my stand over this issue known,” said Mr Mkosamali.

But Deo Filikunjombe (Ludewa-CCM) said the raised allowance was justifiable given the meagre salaries paid to lawmakers.

“And my stand is that if MPs were being paid in accordance with the weight of their job, there would be no need to pay them hefty allowances and this is not for MPs only. Civil servants too receive very small salaries,” he said.

In June this year, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament, Mr Zitto Kabwe, presented a letter in which he rejected his sitting allowance on the grounds that MPs were not supposed to be paid for sitting, arguing that their job, for which they receive monthly salaries, is to sit at the Bunge and debate.

Mr Kabwe’s stand, however, drew stiff opposition from a majority of the MPs, including some from his own party.

Source: The Citizen

Written by zittokabwe

November 28, 2011 at 9:33 AM