The Lesotho Members of Parliament are set to pocket a lucrative M60 000 each while the country is expected to fork out millions by the end of every year after the petrol allowance regulation was adopted in parliament earlier this week.
The Portfolio Committee on the Prime Minister’s Ministries and departments, Governance, Foreign Relations and Information cluster chairman Tšeliso Kalake tabled the report on the Members of Parliament salary (Amendment of schedule) Regulations 2020.
After a lengthy debate in the National assembly, member of the opposition was, Mothejoa Metsing negated the report citing that it is not right to adopt the report during the time of Covid-19 and also considering the poor economy after the Minister of Mining, Thabo Sophonea indicated that there would be no increments in all the departments of government.
However, Metsing’s reasons were not enough to convince the irate members who barely allowed him to talk.
In the report, Kalake stated that the mileage was changed to petrol allowance and paid to the Members of Parliament without tax effective from April.
“The purpose is that those regulations are intended to repeal and replace the previous regulations. The other point was to review Parliament Members allowances. There were changes where mileage was changed to petrol allowance.
“The committee resolved that the petrol issue as mileage, should be paid to the Honourables without tax and be included in their salaries,” Kalake said.
“We have realised as a committee that this petrol allowance has attracted some arreas and the expectation is that the Members of Parliament should be given the money in April because mileage was supposed to click at this month. The committee recommends that these regulations be allowed and the report be adopted by the house,” he said.
However, Metsing was quick to respond to the desired increment citing that the country is going through a rough financial patch which was emphasised by Sophonea on February 17, 2021.
“Chairman says the mileage is being converted to petrol allowance, I do not disagree with the initiative but it is above mileage budget which has always been allocated. This will make implications when handled with this manner. A budget is going to increase more expenses on the nation’s purse, that’s not what we want. It is not good to make an increment during these trying times of Covid-19.
“It was not long when the Minister of Finance read a budget speech in this house. He explained that the economy is bad this year and for that purpose, there won’t be any addition to all the departments. Even though the Members of Parliament say they are bearing weight, the truth is life is not easy on every one.
“We appeal to the members of this house to have warm hearts and accept that this year is a difficult and no one got increment. Everyone is going to get M60 000, and means accumulation and with these reasons I say we should not accept this regulation.
“It was not long ago when the Prime Minister announced a state of emergency, calling to other nations that we are in crisis and called for other countries to come forth and help. We can’t call upon another country to come and help while we fill pockets with the money,” he said.
Meanwhile, another Member of Parliament Lehloka Hlalele seconded the motion that the backbenchers must be given shot in the arm and that, “The regulations fix two things; it was observed that the 5% pay cut taken by the ministers 2019/20 was not properly worked on because it decreased their salaries.
“When the 5% 2020/21 was introduced, it reflected as though the ministers’ salaries increased with 10%.
“The quarrel that erupted was that the MPs should get a motor mileage which is only signed when one attends Parliament duties, yet the work of an MP is not only to come to this house but also attends to the community gatherings and come here with the needs of his or her people.
“When one compares this issue with the one of Ministers who already have lucrative salaries and free cars which they use for their ministerial duties, family matters, political purposes and their girlfriends, it is little,” he said.
“So we discussed around whence we wondered if it would be correct if the MPs attend to their duties and claim the petrol after, but we realised that it would be subject to abuse. We decided to give them petrol instead of claiming motor allowance.
He added that, “This news was explained in a mysterious manner on radio because some bash only the petrol allowance issue and leave out the Ministers’ matter, maybe it’s because they benefit there. They don’t explain all the regulations and give the whole picture.
“Another one only indicates that Members of Parliament are given petrol and does not explain that motor mileage allowance has been removed and replaced by petrol allowance.
“I wish we could tell the truth at all the time when we address the nation because lying makes us to look like Annanias and Safira who were doomed because of bo menemene, so I advise that we return from our actions before we are doomed on the politics of this country,” he said.