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Ministers salaries, perks to be reviewed

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Boitumelo Koloi

MASERU — The government says it plans to set up a commission headed by a High Court judge to review the salaries and perks of ministers, MPs and other senior officials for the new financial year. Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing told a press conference on Thursday that there was a general feeling in government that some benefits enjoyed by senior civil servants were superfluous. He said the government might cut some of these perks while reviewing upwards the salaries of some civil servants.

“The commission will be led by an independent judge for purposes of transparency,” Metsing said. He said the purpose of the review is to save money. At present MPs earn between M250 644 and M469 884 in salaries per annum. According to the Members of Parliament Salaries Regulations of 2011, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane earns M469 884 per annum. He also enjoys the use of a State House that is fully furnished and does not pay rent.

He also gets a tax-free expense allowance of M6 000 a month, a chauffeur-driven government vehicle with full security for both official and private business as well as a utility vehicle. The premier is also entitled to a tax-free annual entertainment allowance to be determined by the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. The premier is also entitled to an interest free loan of up to M650 000 and an annual holiday anywhere in the world at the government’s expense. A senator, who is on pay category D, earns a salary of M250 644 a year. Senators and MPs are also entitled to a fully furnished house or a housing allowance of M2 000 a month, tax-free electricity, telephone, cell phone and water allowance of M2 000 per month.
They also get a sitting allowance of M150 every time they attend parliamentary sessions as well as an interest free loan of M500 000.
They also travel business class with a 100 percent per diem and 10 percent entertainment allowance. On the other hand, government ministers earn M375 900 per annum, besides the use of official vehicles while in office. Metsing said the review is part of the government’s commitment to
look at the salaries of civil servants holistically. Earlier this month, Metsing told civil servants during celebrations to mark Public Service Day that the government was committed to a full salary review for all civil servants.

He said when the coalition government took over the reins in June it discovered the previous administration led by Pakalitha Mosisili already had plans to review civil servants’ salaries. Metsing said the process was carried out by an independent foreign consultancy company, PricewaterhouseCoopers. He said the government is still to look into the recommendations. The salary and perks review is part of the government’s first hundred days report which was released in summary by Thabane two weeks ago. The full version of the report was presented by Metsing on Thursday.

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