Sri Lanka PM seeks pay rise for MPs

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Saturday made an impassioned plea for substantially higher salaries for legislators in a bid to reduce corruption and attract better talent to parliament.

Wickremesinghe said the current salary of an MP was grossly inadequate for the amount of work they are required to carry out in their constituencies and he was proposing substantially higher wages.

"I know it is unpopular to say it, and I will be criticised for saying this," Wickremesinghe said in parliament at the start of the committee state debate on the 2017 budget.

He said the salary currently paid to elected representatives did not attract the right people to parliament.

"I will manage with the salary I get, but my wife’s salary is more than what I get."

Wickremesinghe’s wife is a university professor. Academics had their salaries raised after prolonged agitation and trade union action.

The premier did not say by how much he wanted the salaries of law makers raised.

He said many MPs had “sponsors” to pay for offices maintained in their constituencies and the practice should be stopped as it led to lawmakers have to dispense favours in return.

He also called for free air tickets for MPs from the northern and eastern regions to attend parliament rather than spending long hours travelling by road.

Each MP is currently entitled to a monthly allowance of 54,285 rupees. In addition they also get 1,000 rupee for entertainment, 3,500 rupees for a driver, 2,000 rupees for a mobile phone and another 10,000 as transport reimbursement of his or her staff members.

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An MP is also paid 500 rupees for attending each sitting of parliament and is provided with 283 to 639 litres of diesel a month depending on the distance to his or her constituency.

MPs are also entitled to a state pension after serving for just five years.

They were also given a tax free permit to import a luxury vehicle and most have sold this entitlement at about 22 million rupees (each).

A recent proposal to give luxury vehicles for some 58 MP’s said to be involved in “development “ work has drawn severe criticism from the opposition. The government is proposing the hiring of luxury Sports Utility Vehicles at a monthly rental of 700,000 rupees for each vehicle to be given for the use of MPs. Pending the obtaining of these vehicles, the MPs are paid a monthly additional allowance of 200,000 rupees. This second vehicle is in addition to a permit which many have hawked for 22 million rupees a piece.

Food at parliament is also subsidised and MPs are also entitled to free body massages in addition to a comprehensive health care insurance. (COLOMBO, Nov 19, 2016)

 

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