Despite the country’s economy tilting on the precipice and service delivery being hugely compromised, government has yielded to pressure from members of Parliament (MPs) and has paid them K11 million each as half gratuity.
The figure translates to about K2.1 billion, which Treasury has spent on the 193 legislators and has since attracted the wrath of members of the civil society, arguing it is immoral to spend such a sum on MPs when the economy is suffering.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe defended the payment in an interview with Nation on Sunday yesterday, claiming the MPs are entitled to their gratuity as stipulated in their conditions of services.
Said Gondwe: “It is their entitlement, as stipulated in their conditions of service.”
A member of Parliament, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also confirmed receiving the gratuity, arguing it was in the conditions of service.
A source said according to the National Assembly Emoluments Act, conditions of service for MPs stipulate that MPs are supposed to get their gratuity within two and a half years of service or half-way through their service.
But Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national secretary Martin Chiphwanya has said though government has not done anything illegal, it was immoral to pay such large sums now taking into account the status of the economy.
“While conditions of service of our honourable members have to be respected, it is also important to strike a balance in line with prudent management of resources. It is a fact that our economy is in bad shape and there is, therefore, need to exercise caution in our expenditure so that the economy is not weakened further and negatively affect service delivery in some sectors. A sober reflection is needed to have a win-win situation,” said Chiphwanya.
MPs reconvene in the National Assembly in Lilongwe tomorrow for the 2016/2017 Mid-Year Budget Review and to suggest ways ordinary Malawians can be better served by the national kitty.
Parliamentarians have never been shy of fighting for their remuneration with calls for better perks for the current House representatives voiced barely 30 days in office as they demanded that their personal loan facilities to be doubled.
Apart from a modest salary of over K1 million, the MPs are also entitled to a motor vehicle loan, a general purpose administration loan and consolidated allowances, among other facilities. n