The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell has denied claims made by the opposition that it has significantly increased the monthly parliamentary allowances to all fifteen elected Members of Parliament.
The NNP won all 15 seats in general elections held one year ago when it defeated the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) then headed by Tillman Thomas.
Since coming back into office, the Mitchell government has taken away the responsibility of managing state finances from Parliamentary representatives and placed it with the Houses of Parliament.
According to Deputy Prime Minister, Elvin Nimrod, the practice which took effect last month, has resulted in the $1,500.00 allocated to the 15 parliamentary representatives monthly being diverted to the budget of Parliament, which now has oversight of the finances.
It was also disclosed that provision was now made in the 2014 Budget
for all Personal Assistants to Ministers and Driver/Security to be transferred from the respective ministries to the Capital Budget under a new Programme called, Strengthening Parliamentary Representation.
In denying reports that the monthly $1,500.00 constituency allowance given to parliamentary representatives was increased, Nimrod told the New Today newspaper that there is no truth to this claim as no parliamentary representative is currently receiving any monies.
Nimrod said the change was made after Government discovered that some parliamentary representatives were accepting monies without operating an office.
“We have found that there were some members who have not actually conduct an office as such and was receiving this money”, he remarked.
Nimrod did not indicate whether this practise was happening with the current regime or under the previous Congress administration.
Nimrod stated that this situation was of serious concern to government and in the spirit of accountability, a decision was taken to transform the office and put the budget under the control of Parliament.
He said that with this new change, each Parliamentary office would go directly under Parliament, and three persons would now be attached to these parliamentary offices to facilitate the payment of employees and the landlords of these properties.
“No monies would come to the parliamentary representative…”, he said, adding that this new policy is already in effect in order to bring about more efficiency, better oversight and accountability to the public’s purse.
The $1,500.00 per month given to MP’s is intended to be used to run their Constituency Office in terms of paying rent and utility bills, as well as a Secretary and other personnel.
Nimrod said that based on experience, MP’s who received the $1,500.00 often had to dip into their own pockets to supplement the expenses of their offices.