The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) agreed that the new proposed conditions of service for MPs in Malawi should not be debated in Parliament to hide them from the public.
They instead decided to submit them to the chairperson of the Public Appointments and Declaration of Assets Committee, who would in turn send them to relevant authorities.
A PSC meeting on May 21 2012 in the Speakerâ€™s boardroom recommended the new conditions of service should be effective during the 2014 to 2019 life of Parliament.
The proposed conditions include the 137 percent salary increment demand and fresh demands of each MP getting a 4 x 4 vehicle and a K10 million (about $40 000) car loan. The fresh demands, if implemented, will cost the taxpayer over K4 billion (about $16 million).
PSC has also proposed that MPs should fly business class contrary to what happens to most officials from donor countries, including US ambassadors and British ministers who fly economy class.
Other perks the PSC agreed are as follows:
. 4 x 4 vehicle for all MPs to be bought at 10 percent at the end of term.
. A reliable mobile phone once every 5 years.
. All MPs to fly business class when on official duties.
. A car loan of $40 000 per tenure of office for two duty free vehicles of any type
. Emergency loan of up to K1 000 000 (about $4 000)
. General purpose loan of K3 000 000 (about $12 000)
. External travel allowance raised to $350 from $320 in the rest of Africa and $400 from $370 in North Africa and $480 from $450 outside Africa on non-funded trips.
. $80 per day from $70 as telephone allowance in Africa and $100 per day from $90 outside Africa.
. On donor funded trips, $130 per day allowance from $100, telephone allowance of $80 per day from $70.
. Local subsistence allowance of K30 000 (about $120) from K20 000 (about $80) and a sitting allowance of K5 000 (about $20).
Currently, MPs fly economy class and they have a motor vehicle loan of K5 million (about $20 000) which they want raised to K10 million. Their emergency loan is calculated from three months gross salary and their general purpose advance is at K2 million (about $8 000).
The meeting was chaired by Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda and members of the commission present were Professor Eta Banda, Ackim Mwanza, Makala Ngozo, Alfred Mwechumu, R.H.E Mapemba and Jones Chingola, who is First Deputy Speaker.
Demands are a great dream, sinful
Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) has described the new conditions as non-starter and great dream while governance body Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has described the proposals as sinful and lacking good governance.
Asked what the President makes of the proposed conditions, presidential press secretary Steve Nhlane said: â€œThe Speaker is better placed to deal with [that] one.â€
Mejn executive director Dalitso Kubalasa said the proposals would remain a dream because the current economy cannot accommodate them.
â€œThis can best be described as a pipeline dream that is likely to remain as such. If the current serious economic challenges are anything to go by, then they can continue to dream on into the
foreseeable future, because most of these are wants and not necessarily needs,â€ said Kubalasa in an interview on Tuesday.
â€œWith the current austerity and recovery budget, largely touted as geared at doing everything possible to induce economic recovery by focusing on the local productivity, this will be a non-starter. Nonetheless, itâ€™s not a crime to dream, let everybody dream, but something needs to happen first for such dreams to realistically turn into the reality,â€ he added.
Not fair at all
On the other hand, CCJP trashed the proposed conditions describing them as sinful if implemented.
â€œIf they can proceed to implement, it will be sinful considering the economic situation in the country. The behaviour and performance of our MPs in Parliament, for example, the political prostitution, do not warrant such conditions.
â€œIt is not fair that they can accord themselves with such conditions when they only passed 21 percent for civil servants who are the technicians who run government. As for them [MPs], they are only in political positions and they never went to any school for politics,â€ said CCJP national secretary Chris Chisoni.