21 November 2012

Namibia: MPs Debate Presidential Benefits - Want 15 Percent More for Pohamba

Windhoek — MPs in the National Council have reached consensus that the Namibian Head of State deserves an increase in his remuneration with some parliamentarians saying the salary increase is long overdue.

The National Council on Monday commenced with the debate on the Presidential Remuneration and Other Benefits Bill 7 of 2012 that seeks to review the remuneration and other benefits paid to the president, as well as the benefits extended to the spouses, and incidental matters. The MPs were all in agreement that the Bill should be passed without further delay.

"Our Head of State is getting paid peanuts compared to [the heads of state of] neighbouring countries," said Isai Kapenambili, Swapo MP and Okahao Constituency Councillor in the Omusati Region.

Kapenambili said the president of South Africa earns R216 611 a month, whereas the Namibian president earns N$104 167 per month. "As our leaders are aging, they are prone to illnesses. Hence, all other benefits should be increased."

Rundu Rural Constituency Councillor and Swapo Party MP, Rosa Kavara, said: "We need to support this Bill. We cannot afford to see our head of state with financial constraints. Our head of state did a lot for us, they paved the way for us. Let us honour them and let's plan and prepare a good future for our presidents when they retire."

Swapo MP and Tsumeb councillor in Oshikoto Region, Lebbius Tangeni Tobias, said in his motivation of the Bill: "I personally feel it is unfair for other [people] in this country to [be paid] higher than the president. Apparently it is so because of the institutions they head and the work they do. Is there anybody who is more accountable than the president of the country? Not at all, when things are not going the direction we want in our institutions, or wherever we are, we all run to the president or we want the president to intervene so that whatever situation is hot should come to normal."

Kilus Nguvauva, Swapo MP and the Steinhausen Constituency Councillor also supported the Bill, saying it is justifiable to remunerate the president with 15 percent more than what the sitting prime minister receives as remuneration.

"Honourable members, our president should be provided with a good salary, allowances, medical aid and other benefits," said Oshakati West Constituency Councillor and Swapo MP, Aram Martin.

The National Council also discussed the amendments to the Former President's Pension and Other Benefits Act of 2004, which Prime Minister Nahas Angula tabled last month.

The amendments seek to adjust the gratuity and housing benefits payable to former Namibian heads of state and their families. Nguvauva wanted clarity on whether the property built or bought by the State for the sitting president would remain property of the State once the president leaves office, or whether the property would become private property for that specific former head of state.

Nguvauva also wanted to know when the spouse and dependent children would cease to enjoy the benefits granted by the amendments in the Bill, in case the former heads of state divorce and remarry or in case the dependent children reach the age of 21 years. "I am asking because it is not clear what will be the case, if the above mentioned scenarios occur," he said.

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