MPs receive more than SSP1.6 billion in recess fund

MPs receive more than SSP1.6 billion in recess fund
Chaos, laughter and confusion rocked Parliament when a committee was told that some pages on a critical bill ‘disappeared’.

Members of the National Assembly received their funding for recess on Friday after putting the House leadership on the spot over the delay.

Bol Joseph Agau, a lawmaker from Yirol West, told The City Review on Monday that each of them received SSP2.5 million as recess money.

“It is true that we received the recess money,” he said, adding, “The MPs waited two weeks until the last week of December; that is when those whose accounts are in KCB, Equity Bank had to get their money.”

He said that the payment they received was a three-month multiple of their salary as specified by the legislation, and the legislature rules on conducting business.

According to the new raise they made in 2022, an MP’s gross salary is SSP 800,000 per month, which when multiplied by three equals SSP 2.4 million. They did, however, receive SSP 2.5 million as a recess. Bol said their leadership had paid them an extra SSP50,000 for travel expenses so they could go and come back.

There are 650 national parliamentarians in total at both the Council of States and the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA). The TNLA has 550 members while the Council of States has 100.

The 650 MPs in total in both houses cost the country SSP1,625,000,000 in recess money.

Although Bol was pleased to have gotten the recess funds, he is concerned about the time he would spend it with his community because the money was released late.

 “I was prepared to go to my constituency to meet the constituents, but I did not have the time to see them because of not having the recess funds, which I was to use for facilitating some of the meetings I was planning to have to know their complaints,” he said.

“Now it (recess fund) came late, and we don’t know when we are going back to the Assembly because it is an open recess and they said we would be called back any time.”

Bol stated that they are still asking for payment of two recess arrears, one for 2021 and the other for 2022, from the ministry of finance. Twice a year MPs are required to take a break to visit their constituencies and assess the needs of the people they represent.

Since the national legislature’s commencement in August 2021, lawmakers have not been given a break till now. The MPs’ inaugural break was announced a week before Christmas last year.

The assembly will convene twice a year in accordance with the Transitional National Legislature Assembly’s (TNLA) procedures for conducting business. While the second session of the Assembly begins on the first Monday of October, and ends on the second Wednesday of December, the first session of the Assembly begins on the first Monday of April and ends on the last Wednesday of June.