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MPs hit another jackpot

Bongiwe Zihlangu
 

 

 

 

 

 

MASERU — Sixty-two MPs stood to claim in excess of M1.5 million to make up for the per diem shortfalls they suffered when they undertook official trips as far back as 2006.

The Sunday Express can reveal a document listing the shortfalls has already been compiled for processing by the Ministry of Finance.

This comes barely a month after MPs allowed themselves to claim 25 percent of the gratuities they are entitled to at the end of their parliamentary terms after serving for only two years.

A parliamentary term is five years.

After amending their conditions of service, it means an MP can now get at least M100 000 after spending just two years in the august House.

The latest indulgence comes after the MPs complained that they were being marginalised by getting a quarter of the full government per diem rate previously only enjoyed by senators.

For a trip to Europe, for example, a full per diem can be as much as M52 000.

A per diem is an out-of-pocket allowance given for use during a business trip.

After the MPs grumbled about the disparity, the government gave in and agreed to pay the lawmakers the full per diem rate as well.

This paper is in possession of a confidential document listing the MPs’ claims.

The document shows that 22 MPs could get a total of M466 876 for the trips they undertook in 2006.

Speaker of Parliament Nthloi Motsamai is entitled to M62 434 for the official trips she undertook in 2006, according to the document.

This would make her the biggest beneficiary of the bonanza if the government agrees to backdate the payments to 2006.

Six MPs are each claiming M38 811 for trips undertaken.

For 2007, 20 MPs are claiming a total of M418 972 in outstanding per diems.

Kabelo Mafura of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy is the highest claimant on M62 329.

For 2008, 13 MPs could get a combined M181 578.

For the trips they undertook last year, 31 MPs will get a total of M443 282.

All in all, the claims total M1 510 708 — enough to feed Lesotho’s 1 800 orphans for two months.

However, the government will only backdate the claims to 2009.

Ministry of Finance principal secretary Mosito Khethisa told the Sunday Express the government would “deal only with adjustments dating back to August 2009”.

“We are currently working on adjustments dating back to August 2009,” Khethisa said.

“We cannot backdate the adjustments further than that. We cannot backdate the law.

“We will not give attention to those dating back to 2006 and so forth.”

That means the government will only pay out M443 282 to the MPs.

Had the government agreed to backdate the claims, Motsamai would have been the biggest beneficiary with a whopping M183 409.

Mafura would have pocketed M138 535, while All Basotho Convention MP Mapheello Ts’uluba stood to get M65 552.

The Basotho National Party’s Seabata Thabisi would have claimed the lowest, M2 239.

Khethisa said the adjustments were catered for in the law and that it was not a “matter of whether or not the finance ministry approves of the adjustments”.

“The law provides that they be made and that is exactly what we are doing,” he said.

When contacted for comment on Friday, clerk of parliament Lebohang Ramohlanka declined to talk saying she was at a prayer meeting.

She had promised to call back but had not done so by the time of going to print.

The Sunday Express, however, understands the MPs were not consulted when the claims document was compiled.

Most of the MPs who spoke to this paper said they had not instigated the claims.

Some said they were surprised that their names were on the list.

The list was compiled by the Ministry of Finance using the MPs’ official travel records.

 

 

 

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