Malawi President Joyce Banda has turnedÂ down a Parliamentary Service Commission proposal to increase MPs basic pay byÂ 137 percent.Â Instead,Â the MPs have been given a 28 percent basic pay hike from K126 000 (about $504)Â to K150 000 (about $600).
Â SpeakerÂ of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda confirmed the development in a telephoneÂ interview from South Africa, but Secretary to the Treasury Randson Mwadiwa saidÂ he is not aware of the matter.
Â â€œYouÂ remember government announced an average of 21 percent increase for all publicÂ servants? We are part of that arrangement,â€ said the Speaker.Â ButÂ Mwadiwa, in-charge of the public purse, said: â€œI am not aware of any increaseÂ of such magnitude to MPs.â€Â InÂ June, the Parliamentary Service Commission wrote Treasury asking for a 137Â percent basic pay hike which would have seen MPs basic pay jump toÂ K300 000 (aboutÂ $1 200).Â InÂ turn, Treasury forwarded the request to President Banda for approval as perÂ provisions of the Parliamentary EmolumentsÂ Act which empowers the President to decide MPsâ€™ perks.Â The June request from Parliament also proposed incrementsÂ on other non-taxable benefits which would have seen MPs packages jump by 50Â percent from K581 500 (about $2 326) to K875 000 (about $3 500) making theirÂ total monthlyÂ wage bill rise to K168 875 000 (about $675 500) from K112 229 500 (about $448Â 918).
Â â€œCurrently,Â only the basic pay has been affected, the rest of our proposals will beÂ discussed later,â€ said Chimunthu Banda.Â ParliamentÂ has 193 seats, currently with 191 members because of two vacancies in Mzimba.Â InÂ June, Finance Minister Ken Lipenga announced an average of 21 percent salaryÂ increase for all civil servants which saw the lowest paid cadre getting 46Â percent, and the highest got 16 percent.Â AlthoughÂ MPs are ideally supposed to stay in their constituencies, they receive a taxÂ free housing allowance which is currently at K45 000 (about $180). TheyÂ proposed a 122 percent hike to K100 000 (about $400).Â MPsÂ also wanted their tax free motor vehicle maintenance allowance raised by 10Â percent from the current K250 000 (about $1 000) to K275 000 (about $1 100).Â They currently receive a tax free constituency allowance of K60 000Â (about $240),Â which they wanted increased by 67 percent to K100 000.Â TheÂ MPs did not propose changes to their tax-free utility allowance currently atÂ K100 000.Â SinceÂ the 49 percent devaluation of the kwacha in May, there has been many strikesÂ with workers both in the private and public sectors demanding salary incrementsÂ by various percentages.
Â TheÂ matter took a turn for the worse two weeks ago when it was revealed that theÂ Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) had raised accommodation allowancesÂ by 80 percent. To some, this was an indication that government cannot use theÂ justification of lack of resources to stopÂ workers from striking.Â Some of the sectors that went on strike are lecturers andÂ support staff at the University of Malawi, Blantyre Water Board and LilongweÂ Water Board.