A Member of Parliament’s monthly pay will rise from between Shs 15m and Shs 20m to about Shs 16 and 21m if the proposed 40 per cent pay raise gets approved.
The pay raise follows a proposed 40 per cent increment in the MPs’ mileage allowance by the Parliamentary Commission from the current Shs 2,500 per kilometre to Shs 3,500 for the financial year 2015/16.
The pay raise, which the commission says is meant to motivate MPs to monitor government programmes better, significantly revises parliament’s budget upwards. With Shs 1,000 added on the current mileage rate of Shs 2,500, a taxpayer would have to cough Shs 386,000 more to facilitate the movements of the 386 MPs per single kilometre travelled.
The clerk to parliament, Jane Kibirige, said the adjustment had come after a rigorous process.
“In order to maintain well motivated members and staff of the service, the commission after a rigorous process approved the revised mileage rates for members and an increase in staff salaries,” Kibirige said.
MPs earn a basic monthly salary of Shs 2.6m and are also entitled to other perks:
Subsistence allowance (Shs 4.5m)
Town running allowance (Shs 1m)
Gratuity (Shs 1m)
Medical allowance (Shs 500,000)
Committee sitting allowance (Shs 50,000)
Plenary sitting allowance (150,000)
Constituency facilitation (Shs 3.2m)
These allowances are consolidated to add up to an average of Shs 20m per month for each MP. The added mileage will push this up by about Shs 2m for each MP. For the outgoing financial year 2014/15, the ministry of Finance allocated to parliament Shs 331.9bn, of which Shs 62.7bn was for wages while Shs 229.9bn was for non-wage expenditure.
In the financial year 2015/16, the parliamentary commission has raised its wage bill to Shs 73.8bn and non-wage budget to Shs 296.6bn, according to its policy statement.
Reagan Okumu, the parliamentary commissioner in charge of administration, said the MPs’ mileage rate varies according to the distance.
“Mileage allowance is not something to be measured per day, but it’s based on the kilometers one travels on the ground,” he said in a Thursday interview. He added that MPs’ mileage is a “standard rate set by government for all officials.”
Okumu explained: “Government uses a scale map and it starts measuring your journey from post office [in Kampala] up to your own district.”
Narrowing it down to parliament, Okumu said “parliament is supposed to compute the actual kilometers one [MP] travels such that they can give you money according to your journey. If you need 220 litres [of fuel] to go to the furthest point of your constituency, parliament will give you that money.”
Okumu explained that at the time the current [Shs 2,500] was set, “a litre of fuel was at that amount, which is not the case 10 years down the road.”
Going by Okumu’s explanation, an MP who travels the longest journey earns a higher mileage allowance than colleagues from constituencies nearer Kampala. For example, an MP who needs 220 litres of fuel to travel to his or her constituency would need Shs 550,000 under the current 2,500 mileage rate, but this climbs to Shs 770,000 under the revised rate of Shs 3,500.
On the other hand, a Kampala-based MP who drives just five kilometers to his constituency is given an average of Shs 375,000 per month under the current rate and would require Shs 525,000 at the new rate.
Martin Drito (Madi-Okollo, NRM) told The Observer yesterday that the new rate is welcome.
“It makes economic sense because the amount of fuel Shs 2,500 could buy by the time that rate was fixed was more than one litre, but today Shs 2,500 cannot even buy one litre. So, I think it’s a good decision.”
William Nokrach, a commissioner, told The Observer on Tuesday that the increment is late “because it should have been done much earlier.” To us, it’s not an increment, Nokrach added, “but a small adjustment compared to what MPs spend in their constituencies on transport.”
According to its 2015/16 policy statement, parliament which asked for Shs 331.9bn during the outgoing 2014/15 financial year is now asking for an additiional Shs 162.2bn to bring the 2015/16 budget to Shs 463.9bn.
In its policy statement, the parliamentary commission said its wants Shs 73.8bn for wages, Shs 296.6 for non-wage and Shs 93.5bn for development expenditure. However, the ministry of Finance has indicated it is only willing to release Shs 301.6bn next fiscal year.
BREAKDOWN OF SHS 301.9BN
Committees (Shs 13bn)
Parliamentarian welfare and emoluments for MPs (Shs 201.1bn)
Contributions to autonomous institutions like EALA, international parliamentary associations (Shs 11.5bn)
Parliamentary support/employees’ salaries, office of the speaker and deputy speaker, LOP, committee secretariat and other departments (Shs 66.8bn).
Rehabilitation of parliament (Shs 8.9bn)