Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dinners of Ministers paid by the public !

Originally published on 16/05/2006


The announcement of increase of allowances and other perks to the Members of the Special Majlis have been met with public outrage. The comments on this news have received an unusually high response of which almost all are negative.

The Special Majlis has been convened for nearly two years and have only the Rules of Procedure to show for their two years work. Attendance has been poor and the general public has for long been discontent with their performance, regardless of political beliefs.

clip_image004It is ironic to hear this announcement, only a day after the Deputy Zaeem of DRP Mr.Shiyam gave a surprising speech on loyalty and sincerity to the constituents during the continuation of the debate of the type of Government for Maldives, where he said that “even the slice of fish on the dinner tables of Cabinet Ministers are paid for by the public”. He also covered quite an area of how highly paid Cabinet Ministers were not serving enough to justify their salaries. We know now, that the fiery speech was all a public relation ploy, to strengthen his position as the decision on the increase of allowances would have been taken when this speech was given, but this matter was not mentioned. How would he justify the Rf 19,000/- , almost 10 times the salary of an average public servant who works 5 days a week being paid to people who do not have any worries about salary deductions or any other consequence if they do not show up for work.

Mr.Shiyam got an ovation (as per the Speaker a first and requested it to be the last) from the Members present, probably for the scathing attacks he made on the Cabinet. Rather than a DRP top brass, he sounded more as though he was from the Opposition camp. In a separate article we will analyze his speech as it is not within the subject of this article.

If there is even one member who really works for the interest of the people, why is it that we do not hear of a Bill that one person should not be able to draw more than one salary from the public? There are so many people in the Government, who have been appointed with multiple posts. As every job has its working hours, is it possible for anyone person to complete the working hours of 2 or more jobs? Are we that short of people that 3 or 4 posts need to be filled by one person? Why do we talk about unemployment?

Lets take the case of a senior Civil Servant in a Government Ministry, also being a Member of the People’s Majlis (MP). Being a MP, automatically includes the member in the People’s Special Majlis. The working hours of the Majlis and Public service are in the same time frame, hence the person will either be attending a session of the Majlis (either People’s Majlis or Peopl’s Special Majlis) or at the time of the Majlis be doing his job in his office. If he is absent from either of the places there will be difficulties which arise from that absence, if not the position would naturally be assumed to be a waste which is not required in the first place. In this scenario, we the public are paying the person :

1 – A salary and allowance for the job in the Civil Service

2 – A salary and allowance for being a MP

3 – A salary and allowance for being a MSP

How do the Members in the Parliament who claim to be protecting the citizens of Maldives justify this? The citizens of Maldives would not mind paying for a service they get from individuals, but this is plainly day light robbery. In most countries, a sitting Parliament cannot decide on their own salaries, rather any decisions they take will be for the next Parliament or Legislative Council. The way our systems works, it only encourages members to lengthen their tenure in the People’s Special Majlis as they do not have a limitation on their term.

Do we blame this also on Maumoon? The short comings of the last Consitution have been blamed of the President repeatedly, by those opposed to him. However it is clear now that this was something in which the Members themselves have been complacent as much. They got what they wanted and the Government got the Constitution as per their requirement. Everyone except the poor citizens were happy. The equation is still the same, though the “x” and “y” may have been replaced by “a” and “b”. It’s a matter of how a compromise is reached between the Government and those members inside now, and how soon the team can make each other happy. Who bother about us, the people?

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