MP Defends Demand For Salary Increment
Hon. Alfred Taban representing Yei River State in the TNLA (Juba Monitor file photo):
By Jale Richard
A member of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) has defended law makers’ demand for increase of their salaries.
Recently, members of the National Legislature have been criticized by a section of the public for reportedly demanding for increase of their salaries to an equivalent of USD 10,000.
On Wednesday, Francis Aguek, the chairperson of the National Disabled Association criticized the MPs for wanting to increase their salaries while many of the common people were suffering as a result of the ongoing conflict and the economic crisis.
However Alfred Taban who represents Yei River State in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly on the ticket of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) defended the law makers, saying those who criticize the MPs should first understand what salary the MPs get.
A select committee in the parliament is proposing a sum that is equivalent to USD 3,000 which they used to earn by then.
“For somebody to talk like that they should know what salary it is,” he said. “We are not volunteers. Even volunteers get something for upkeep. They don’t know what they are talking about. If asking for something equivalent of 3,000 USD is too much then what is too little?” he asked.
South Sudanese law makers have been receiving between 9,200 and 9,800 South Sudanese Pounds equivalent to USD 3,000 since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. However after the SSP lost value, that amount is now equivalent to less than 30 USD.
The MPs have been complaining of low salaries and poor living conditions for a long time which prompted them to demand for increase of their salaries and other benefits through pushing for enactment of the Emolument Act.
Hon Taban said the issue was raised in parliament for debate and the National Legislature formed a select committee to study the Emolument Act but the committee was yet to present its report to the August House.
Some members of the parliament including Atem Garang the SPLM’s chief whip argued that it was not time to increase the salaries of MPs but the majority in the select committee disagreed with him.
Hon Taban said even if their argument was understandable, “but at the same time the MPs are really suffering.”
The MP revealed that many of the legislators do not have vehicles to go for work, and that many have “fallen off boda bodas” when going for work.
“I really don’t know how most of the MPs’ survive. Can that money feed the family, take children to school and buy medicines?” he asked.
Hon. Taban revealed that many of the MPs survive on other works and businesses because the salaries they get from the parliament can hardly support them.
The lawmaker said the salary South Sudanese legislators get cannot be compared to that of other MPs in the region, revealing that Ugandan legislators get an equivalent of USD 10,000 while Kenyan and Rwandan MPs get about USD 14,000.
According to Taban, the reported USD 10,000 people are talking about is “fictitious and not accurate. “It is surprising. I don’t know where this 10,000 USD came from,” he dismissed.
With the Emolument Act, Taban said the MPs were looking for issues of retirement because they do not have legal basis to claim for retirement benefits when they leave the parliament.
“When you are relieved without the Emolument Act you cannot claim for benefits. People are appointed by decrees. When you have the Emolument Act, they can claim their benefits,” he said.
MP Taban said while the lawmakers were demanding for their salary increment, they also want the civil servants’ pay adjusted in accordance with the rising cost of living.
“They (MPs) have not actually forgotten about the common man,” he stated.
“I have never seen a parliament the whole world like this. This one is a disgrace. It is terrible,” he stated.