The National Assembly this week adopted the controversial Members of Parliament Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations of 2023 which entitle Members of Parliament (MPs) to a monthly tax-free M5,000 fuel allowance, among other benefits.
The regulations were tabled before the house by the deputy prime minister, Nthomeng Majara, on May 17, this year.
Minister of public service, labour, and employment, Richard Ramoeletsi, also tabled the Statutory Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations of 2023.
Both regulations were subsequently referred to the portfolio committee on the prime minister’s ministries and departments, governance, foreign relations, and information cluster for consideration.
The portfolio committee then resolved to allow both regulations and then presented its report to the plenary for adoption.
“The Committee has resolved to allow both Members of Parliament Salaries (Amendment of Schedule Regulations, 2023 and the Statutory Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulation, 2023,” Kobeli Letlailane, the chairman of the portfolio committee said.
“The Committee wishes to submit this report for adoption,” Letlailane added.
The national assembly on Tuesday adopted the regulations.
The 2023 regulations replaced the 2022 regulations which were promulgated by the former prime minister, Mathibeli Mokhothu, in October last year, a few days before the elections.
Just like the 2020 and 2022 regulations, these latest regulations made by Majara still entitled MPs to a M5,000 monthly petrol allowance, among many other benefits, despite that the public protested when the petrol allowance was first introduced about two years ago.
In March 2020, after the national assembly had endorsed the Members of Parliament (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations of 2020, a group of young people made a public statement condemning in the strongest of terms the adoption of the said regulations.
The group said a decision to give MPs M5,000 monthly petrol allowance while many families did not know where their next meal would come from would inevitably make Lesotho a society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, characterized by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty.
The group later petitioned MPs that they should, as quickly as possible, enact the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-bearers Act.
The Act, the youths said, would provide for the establishment of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-bearers to make recommendations concerning the salaries, allowances, and benefits of all Public Office-bearers.
Their plea and good advice fell on deaf ears.
But when campaigning for elections that were held on October 7 last year, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) leader Sam Matekane, now prime minister, vowed to cancel the allowance.