Country before self or vice versa?

Country before self or vice versa?

Country before self or vice versa?

Written by Ramesh Irugalbandara

03 Aug, 2018 | 1:26 am

COLOMBO (News 1st) – Since the current administration was elected to power there have been a plethora of taxes imposed on the general public. The cost of living is on the rise and it seems that this unbearable cost of living is beginning to take a toll on our elected public representatives as well.

It could be because of this very reason that they are planning on giving themselves a pay rise, as a pat on the back for the hard work that they have put in to improve the state of the country over the past 3 years. Several newspapers reported on Thursday (Aug. 2nd) quoting parliamentary sources that our public representatives stand to benefit from a whopping 215% pay increase.

How will the Government pass such a proposal through Parliament? By simply ensuring that this pay increase benefits everyone across the board. Yes! the proposal seeks to increase the salaries of Ministers, Deputy Ministers, State Ministers and Parliamentarians, thus ensuring bipartisan support in Parliament which is rarely seen in any matter of national concern.

The media reports indicate that the proposal to increase the salaries came up for discussion during the party leaders meeting held on the 17th of July. The reports add that the salary increment would be retrospectively applied from January this year and that it would be paid this month with the arrears.

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS

The current salary of a member of Parliament is Rs.54,285. If this proposed salary increment does come into play MPs will see their monthly salary rise to Rs.120, 000.

The monthly salary of a Deputy Minister is set to increase from Rs.63,500 to Rs 135,000, while the salaries drawn by Ministers and State Ministers would increase from Rs.65,000 to Rs.140,000.

In addition to all this, since 2016 each and every member of Parliament receives a Rs 100,000 office allowance and a Rs. 50,000 phone allowance. Not forgetting the myriad of perks and benefits enjoyed by those in the Government.

It is not surprising that the move to increase the salaries of members of Parliament has been met with outrage by the members of the general public who are requested to tighten their belts because of the enormous debt burden that the current government says it has to deal with, at every possible occasion.

GOOD GOVERNANCE

Minister of Home Affairs Vajira Abeywardene attended an event in Kegalle today and as he was leaving the location of the event, he was questioned by Journalists. The question that was posed was simple “how fair is it to increase salaries by 215% when the economy is in such a state.” The Minister no doubt shocked and taken aback by the report that he stands to receive a pay rise, simply walked away smiling with his index finger pressed to his lips, as if to say shhh! don’t jinx it.

Former Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage speaking to the media noted that it is unfair to increase the salaries of Parliamentarians in a backdrop where taxes imposed on the general public keeps rising.

Addressing a media briefing General Secretary of the United National Freedom Front, Maithri Gunratne questioned if this is what the current administration classifies as “good governance.” Gunaratne spoke about the actions of Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, who proposed a 20% pay cut for all parliamentarians taking into consideration the status of the economy. He noted that the situation in Sri Lanka is completely different.

Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera was also questioned by the media on Thursday (Aug 2nd) on the reports of a possible salary increase for MPs. Minister Samaraweera noted that personally, he is against the salaries of anyone being increased at this current point of time. He noted that whatever discussions are held, the final decision has to come through him.

It is admirable that the Minister of Finance feels this way in a personal capacity, however, can he withstand pressure from his peers and superiors when the time comes to make the crucial decision. Will it be country before self or vice versa?


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