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MPs want M75k pay

MPs are aggressively pushing to increase their salaries to a staggering M75 000 per month. That is a shocking 85 percent jump on the M40 500 they currently earn. That will take their annual salary from M486 216 to M900 000. The gross salary doesn’t include the M5 000 fuel allowance that MPs awarded themselves, amid public outrages, in March 2021.

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MPs are entitled to M3 000 for housing and M2 000 for water, electricity and phone. There is also a M1 000 tax-free expense allowance.

Those in the lowlands earn a constituency allowance of M400 while those in the highlands get M600. This means an MP in the lowlands earns M11 600 in allowances alone while one in the highlands gets M11 600.

These allowances are not taxed. If the proposed salary is approved an MP will earn M86 400 in salary and benefits.

That is before the M150 sitting allowance they get for every day they attend parliament.

An MP also gets a gratuity equal to 25 percent of their annual salary at the end of two years of continuous service.

In other words, at the current salary of M486 216 the MPs are due for a tax-free M121 554 gratuity when they complete their two years in October. But if they manage to push through the new salary they will get M225 000.

If an MP dies their family will get a tax-free “death gratuity” equal to four times their annual salary. That is M1 945 000 under the current salary and M3 600 000 on the proposed salary.

They also travel business class and 100 percent government per diem on official travel.

thepost can reveal that the salary hike was first suggested by the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP)’s MPs and they have since successfully lobbied a significant number of their colleagues in the opposition for support.

thepost could not confirm reports that leaders of political parties discussed the issue with the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House, Nthomeng Majara, yesterday. It is however understood that the MPs are trying to get Justice Majara to back their cause by proposing that she be entitled to a pension after 18 months instead of the current three years.

They have also proposed the same sweetener for the Leader of the Opposition, Mathibeli Mokhothu.

About 40 RFP MPs are said to support the suggested increase.

Those pushing the agenda are said to have prepared a presentation showing how Lesotho’s MPs are underpaid compared to their colleagues in six countries in the region.
Their benchmark appears to be South Africa where MPs get an annual salary of M1.2 million per year. The MPs earn M100 000 per month.

MPs in Swaziland earn M49 000 while in Namibia they get M52 000 per month.

In Botswana, an MP earns the equivalent of M53 700.

The M75 000 that local MPs are demanding will make them the second highest paid in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Lesotho is the poorest among the SACU members, with its budget and GDP being the lowest. Eswatini’s GDP is almost double that of Lesotho.

Botswana’s economy is seven times bigger than that of Lesotho. Namibia’s economy is five times bigger. South Africa, which local MPs appear to be using as their benchmark, has an economy 168 times bigger than Lesotho.

While the MPs are pushing for an 85 percent increase on their salaries, they have just approved a budget that awarded a 2.5 percent increase for civil servants, rejecting the 25 percent salary increase while pleading poverty.

The MPs’ push for a salary hike comes as the government is struggling to provide basic services across the country. Its debts and obligations are mounting while revenues are in decline.

The economy too has wobbled as key sectors struggled to recover from the ruinous effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lesotho also faces a major drought that is likely to trigger food shortages and accelerate inflation.

That will add misery to the nearly 15 000 Basotho who have lost their jobs in the textile factories since 2020.

While Basotho are fuming about the proposed hike, some MPs are adamant that they deserve what they are demanding.

Tšoana Makhulo MP, Teboho Notši, who is from the RFP, said he was not part of the meeting that discussed the new salary but he supports the proposal because MPs “risk a lot and get nothing in return”.

Even though he said he was not part of the double meetings, he supports the move of members asking for increments.

Sello Hakane, the RFP MP for Qeme, told thepost that “better salaries” will help the MPs perform their oversight role on the government. He said their meetings were not about salaries only but also the welfare of the members of parliament at large, especially when our parliament lacks capacity like this”.

“Salary increments are part of the capacity building,” he said.

“The people often insult the members of parliament, not knowing that we get small salaries as compared to the executive and the judiciary”.

He said the lack of funding leads to ministries engaging in irregularities due to lack of oversight.
The leader of the opposition Mokhothu declined to comment, calling the allegations “hearsay”.

Other MPs are however opposed to the proposal.

Isaac Malebaleba, the RFP MP for Thaba Bosiu, said the proposal is ill-timed as it comes at a time when the government is broke and people are struggling. He however vowed to oppose the proposal.

“I do not want to joke. The increment will not happen under the sun. We rather collapse the government so that elections are called”.

Nkheli Liphoto

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