Saturday, December 7, 2013

Legislators want an independent body to stand for their remunerations

DESPITE of high pay currently being dished out for legislators in the country, some have said their remunerations is not sufficient to cater for their basic requirements as Members of Parliament, thus have requested for an independent body to defend them. Interviewed legislators of both CCM and opposition parties have jointly echoed their concern and suggested that, the Parliament should be treated as an independent institution that is equipped with professional experts to conduct its own affairs including setting legislators’ remunerations. Some interviewed legislators have come up in strong support, saying this is how it’s being done in other countries that follow commonwealth Parliamentary debating procedures in the world. David Kafulila, Kigoma South (NCCR-Mageuzi) said that, the Parliament being a supreme legislative house in the country was ought to be an institution with its own administrative dependency in order to run smoothly with its affairs. He wonders why some other institutions in the country have autonomy of arranging their own affairs including remunerations, giving an example of the Judiciary and the Executive (Government) which he said has its own independent body that stands for their workers’ remunerations. However, he is perplexed to see that among the three government pillars, the Parliament has not yet been given the autonomy to decide their own affairs, and instead have always depending on the central government. He has also called upon the people in the country to be aware of the fact that, to be a member of parliament is just like a civil servant who works in a government institution although, the primary job of MPs is to advice and supervise the government in all legal matters pertaining to the development of the country’s economy. Kafulila is on the view of the fact that, people should be made to understand that, all the social and economic development projects in their respective constituencies are managed by the government but not MPs who now and then are subject to blame for their failure to grow. Dr. Athuman Mfutakamba Igalula (CCM) noted that, the responsibilities of MPs to their voters are so numerous, and in view of this, if the Parliament could have an independent body, it could have easily solved many problems existing between them and their voters. Dr. Mfutakamba, former deputy transport minister is on the view of the fact that, by having an independent body in the Parliament to arrange legislators’ remunerations is an alternative that could enable them caters for the needs of the people they represent in Parliament. “There should be the body which could cater for the need of Parliamentarians and their voters, and this should work concurrently and in consideration of the assessment of the issued reports of government incomes” he said. However, he noted that, the current allowances being paid to the legislators are too low compared to their duties assigned for them in respective constituencies in the country. He said there are so many things that legislators need to entertain to their people in their constituencies, noting that, even the Constituency Catalyst Development Fund (CCDF) paid for the constituency development is not enough. Elaborating on this, Dr. Mfutakamba noted that, there are some personal issues which a legislator has to incur in regard to the mandate they have on their voters, and by all ways have no means to avoid them except to give help. He mentioned such unavoidable issues are such like helping people with disability, orphans, and making contributions to youths’ sports clubs of anything which they might be in need, and many others as related to individual problems. However, he said the CCDF is primarily focused on education, health and other b igger projects such as government properties and their renovations.  Hamad Rashid, (CUF) Wawi-Pemba said that, it is high time for the National Parliament to have autonomy in respect of its supremacy it has in the country. This is the status which other Parliaments in the world have. He said and cited in Kenya whereby legislators are paid well but this depends on the current economic situation of their country. However, he said adding that, in Tanzania, the Parliament’s remunerations are arranged by a team of Parliamentary commissioners who do not have strong mandate when it comes to the decision making for the MP’s remunerations in the country.  “There must be an independent body that can make quick decision and avoid long bureaucratic procedures” he said. The call by legislators has come one week after the Research for Poverty Alleviations (REPOA) proposed an independent body to set payments and benefits for legislators through a study report titled “Can Africa Afford the Cost of Democracy” The REPOA’s study report which was unveiled on last Friday proposed an alternative framework for determining and setting pay and benefits for legislators and public servants. The findings noted that an independent institution for setting payments and benefits for legislators and other public office holders was crucial for Tanzania to accelerate the rate of pro-poor economic development. The report presented by Dr. Theodore Valentine also say that, in order to promote accountability, transparency and impartiality in the allocation of financial resources, public office holders or legislators should not be allowed to determine or set their own remunerations.

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