Speaker of the National Assembly Anne Makinda yesterday confirmed that the sitting allowances for MPs have been beefed up from 70,000/- to 200,000/- contrary to earlier statements from various sources.
Makinda, who was speaking to journalists at the launch of three United Nations Global reports on Justice (Women), Population (UNFPA) and Adolescence (UNICEF), said the decision to raise them was effected during the last Parliamentary session.
She said the increase was aimed at enabling the lawmakers to pay house rent and meet costs of other essential needs.
“I’m surprised at the ongoing public debate that MPs are receiving a lot of money. What we added to their perk is the sitting allowance only. We have not increased the MPs’ salaries since 2003. The lawmaker gets a salary of 2.3m/-. Now if you deduct 700, 000/- in tax per month and 800,000/- as car loan repayment, service and fuel charge, what do they remain with?” she asked.
According to the national Assembly Speaker, the new allowance was first paid to MPs who attended the last full session from November 8 to 11.
She added that house rent and hotel costs have gone up, while the costs of other amenities have also increased.
Makinda explained that most MPs do not have houses to live in when attending parliamentary sessions in Dodoma.
She said some MPs have signed personal agreements with landlords in the municipality and pay them after a certain agreed period.
She said there was misleading information from individuals and the media concerning the issue, dismissing allegations that the government had increased MPs’ salaries.
Recently, the media reported that the last Parliamentary session had secretly raised MPs’ allowances to 330,000/- of which 200,000/- was sitting allowance, 80,000/- per diem and 50,000/- was for fuel.
When contacted last week Clerk of the National Assembly, Dr Thomas Kashillila said his office was not aware of the increase.
“I understand there was discussion among MPs to have their allowances raised, but if that has been effected, my office hasn’t been formally informed yet,” he had said.
The MPs’ when contacted have hesitated to comment on the issues apparently due to the recent debate in which the opposition Chadema pressed for abolition of sitting allowances for the lawmakers.
According to the sources, the Leader of Official Opposition in Parliament, Freeman Mbowe, said the latest increase clearly showed that the government has not taken note of Chadema’s sentiments over allowances.
“We abide by our stand since the time the daily sitting allowances stood at 70,000/-. 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:
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda was also on record as telling the Parliament during the Budget session that the government had agreed to a proposal to slash the allowances.
Felix Mkosamali (Kibondo, NCCR Mageuzi) and Rev Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban, Chadema) declined to discuss the matter in detail saying MPs have not been officially informed of the decision to increase their sitting allowances.
“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,” Deo Filikunjombe (Ludewa, CCM) said.