CSOs petition Malawi parliament over allowance hike

Civil society organisation activists on Thursday stormed parliament to present a petition against the decision by legislators to increase their daily sitting and subsistence allowance, threatening protests and vigil if the decision is not reversed.

Parliament center of petitions delivery

One of the CSOs leaders Fryson Chozi said the activists will first seek dialogue on the matter.

“We will first engage the Parliamentary Service Commission which is chaired by the speaker. If this fails, then we will not come here as good citizens as we have done today,” he said.

Parliament rises on Friday and Chozi hoped the issue will be brought back into the House before the rising at noon.

Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya summoned members of the Parliamentary Service Commission for an urgent meeting to discuss the issue.

The CSOs described the decision by members of Parliament (MPs) to raise their daily sitting allowance from K60 000 to K80 000 as selfish, urging the Parliamentary Service Commission to reverse.

In the petition, the CSOs state that the adjustment was not in the best interest of Malawians, some of whom, such as primary school teachers “are paid far much less in a month compared to what the parliamentarians get in a day”.

They also accuse MPs of absenteeism during parliamentary meetings, saying most MPs “draw allowances for doing nothing”.

Reads in part the petition: “While agreeing to the need for MPs to have better conditions of services, we are… aware that most MPs receive this allowance without even attending parliamentary proceedings as the money is already credited to their account. This means that our MPs draw allowances for doing nothing. This is theft and must stop.”

The CSOs further note that the legislators already enjoy several benefits, including a monthly salary of over K1 million and a K24 million interest-free loan for the purchase of motor vehicles.

“We strongly feel this quest for better living must not only be limited to MPs but the entire citizenry and working population of Malawi. In light of the above, we believe the Malawi National Assembly, the Government, and the Parliamentary Service Commission will heed our call not to implement the upward adjustment of the allowances at this point in time when most Malawians are suffering.”

Receiving the petition, chairman of the members of parliament welfare committee Alex Meja said he would present the petition to the relevant authorities.

“I am not the authority to act upon the petition,” he said.

However, in previous media interviews, he said the legislators would not reverse the decision.

He argued that the high cost of living necessitated the increase in the allowances.

In addition, the MPs have also awarded themselves a duty free tax status on the vehicles they want to import.

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