Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bonanza for MPs

Rs. 75,000 for office
Rs. 50,000 for housing 
Rs. 50,000 for calls etc
Better food, beverages
 
 By Saman Indrajith 
 
 Close on the heels of additional burden placed on taxpayers, the UNP, the SLFP, the Opposition and the Joint Opposition consisting of UPFA rebels, in a rare display of unity, yesterday unanimously approved a range of allowances for MPs. Besides, they agreed to pay a special allowance to the parliamentary staff, according to highly placed sources.
 
 The aforesaid decisions were made at a party leaders’ meeting chaired by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. Among those present were Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala, Deputy Chairman of Committees Selvam Adaikkalanathan, Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, Leader of the Opposition R Sampanthan, Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunatileka, Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Ministers Mahinda Samarasinghe, Dr Wijeyadasa Rajakapkshe, MPs Dinesh Gunawardena, Douglas Devananda, Shanthi Sriskandarasa, MA Sumanthiran, Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake and Deputy Secretary General Neil Iddawela.
 
 MPs will be paid Rs 75,000 each to maintain an office in his or her constituency. All members will receive a monthly allowance of Rs 50,000 each for telephone, internet and overseas calls. It was also agreed to pay Rs. 50,000 each as a housing allowance to the MPs who are not resident at the Madiwela MPs housing complex. 
 
 These allowances will be in addition to the ones currently being paid to the members, according to sources.
 
 The party leaders agreed to continue to provide MPs with stationery free of charge.
 
 The MPs who attended the meetings of the newly established Sectoral Oversight Committees of Parliament on non-sitting days would be paid Rs. 4,000 each per sitting and chairmen Rs. 5,000 each per sitting, sources said.
 
 Rs. 2,500 each will be paid to the MPs who attend the meetings of the Constitutional Assembly.
 
 Chief Opposition Whip MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake proposed that the MPs who were unable to obtain MPs’ quarters at Madiwela be paid Rs 50,000 each per month to rent houses close to Parliament.
 
 The proposals, approved by the House Committee, would be submitted to the Cabinet the Speaker told the party leaders.
 
 Minister Mahindaa Samarasinghe requested the Speaker to direct the Secretary General of Parliament to submit a proposal for paying incentives to the parliament staff. Chief Opposition Whip JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake endorsed Samarasinghe’s view.
 
 Speaker Jayasuriya informed the party leaders that a draft of the proposed Code of Ethics for members was ready and copies thereof would be circulated among MPS next week for their perusal.
 
 Speaker Jayasuriya informed the party leaders that he had instructed the Catering Department of Parliament to use quality edible oil.
 
 The Speaker said that he intended to appoint a committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Speaker to look into the matters concerning food preparation at Parliament to ensure quality.

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