Meja (L) addresses journalists as MP Bon Kalindo (2nd L) and Mkwezalamba (2nd R) look on

LILONGWE (Papius Liwonde, Malawi NewsNow) –  Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament in protest to the House’s decision to increase sitting allowance for MPs and to put tax waiver on their cars.

Recently, the House agreed to increase the lawmakers’ sitting allowances from K60 000 to K80 000  (about 77 U.S. dollars to around 103 dollars per day) but the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) described the decision as selfish, urging the Parliamentary Service Commission to reverse the hike.

The parliamentarians also agreed to give themselves exemption on vehicle duties as part of their benefits among others.

HRCC head Mr Robert Mkwezalamba has described Malawi Parliamentarians’ decision as “stealing public funds at the time the country is passing through financial challenges”.

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 on behalf of Parliament, Kasungu West legislator Alex Meja (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) could not hint on what course of action the House would take on the petition, arguing he was just a messenger.