28 November 2012

Mozambique: Assembly Discusses Its Budget

Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday discussed its own budget for 2013, which will give each deputy an average wage of around 2,800 US dollars a month, at current exchange rates.

The total annual budget for the Assembly is 815.5 million meticais (2.72 million US dollars). The largest item is the wages for the deputies, which will consume 250.9 million meticais. This covers 249 deputies (the 250th deputy, the parliamentary chairperson, as the second figure in the Mozambican state, is paid from a separate heading in the state budget).

The Assembly is a part time body, and many of the deputies have other jobs.

The Assembly normally meets twice a year (from February to May and from October to December). The plenary usually meets for just two mornings a week, from 08.30 to 13.00. Despite this, every deputy receives a monthly wage throughout the year.

This works out at 83,968 meticais a month. That is an average – members of Assembly commissions earn more, and those who are not on any commission earn less. The highest of the statutory minimum wages in force (for workers in financial services) is just 6,171 meticais a month.

In addition to their wages, all deputies receive an allowance for constituency work, which comes to slightly less than 40 million meticais.

Deputies who live outside Maputo receive allowances for rent, water and electricity bills and other expenses involved in living in the capital during Assembly sittings. These amount to a further 110 million meticais.

Introducing the budget, the Assembly’s deputy chairperson, and head of its Consultative Administrative Council, Lucas Chomera, said the budget was 11.58 per cent larger than the 2012 budget.

He said that the most critical expenditure was for items where the price was difficult to predict over a year – such as fuel and lubricants, air tickets and office equipment. Some of these headings have been significantly increased in the 2013 budget. Thus the amount earmarked for fuel and lubricants is 21.5 million meticais – an increase of 138.9 per cent, when compared to this year’s budget.

Air travel within Mozambique is budgeted at 29.8 million meticais, and outside the country at 23 million meticais (increases of 116 and 187.51 per cent respectively). Five million meticais will be spent on maintenance and repair of equipment, and ten million meticais on communications (increases of 25 and 11.1 per cent).

Most of the budget – 750.5 million meticais – is to cover running costs.

Capital expenditure is budgeted at 65 million meticais. This includes expenditure on buildings, including the second phase of building a residential complex for deputies, and on acquiring computers.

In the ensuing debate, the Assembly chairperson, Veronica Macamo, said the budget “remains very small”, with a large gap between what the Assembly proposed, and what the government decided the state budget could afford.

Opposition deputies object to the government setting limits on Assembly expenditure. “The Assembly should be autonomous in fixing its own budget”, said Geraldo Carvalho of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).

Leopoldo Ernesto, of the former rebel movement Renamo, called for laptop computers to be provided for all members of Assembly commissions, and for free medical care to be available for deputies, not only during Assembly sittings in Maputo, but also in their home provinces.

A vote will be taken on the Assembly budget in December.

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