Lesotho: Opposition MPs Reject Salary Increments

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19 November 2019

Opposition legislators have refused to adopt a parliamentary report recommending salary increments for members of parliament and officials in charge of the parastatals.

The proposals for the salary increments are contained in the Members of Parliament Salaries (Amendment Schedule) Regulations of 2019 and the Statutory Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations of 2019 published in a government gazette of October 2019.

The two pieces of legislation are meant "to review the salaries of the members of parliament and officials in statutory positions according to different categories and ranks, and repeal and replace the previous regulations on salaries of members of parliament and statutory positions".

If approved by parliament, the MPs' annual salaries would be increased from M413 668 to M430 236.

The salary increments were supposed to be have implemented in the 2018/19 financial year but on Monday the deliberations on the increments had to be deferred to a yet to be announced date after opposition legislators argued that there should be not be any increments because treasury could not afford the increments.

The MPs voiced their views on the salary increments when the report on the proposed increments was tabled by the Portfolio Committee on the Prime Minister's Ministries, Departments, Governance, Foreign Relations and Information in parliament this week.

The opposition legislators accused the government of seeking to increase salaries against the advice of Finance Minister, Moeketsi Majoro.

In his 2019/20 budget speech, Dr Majoro proposed that there should not be any salary increments for civil servants. He even proposed a five percent salary cut for ministers.

The Acting Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on the Prime Minister's Ministries, Departments, Governance, Foreign Relations and Information Cluster, Lekhetho Mosito had recommended the adoption of the two pieces of legislation, saying they merely regularised salary increments that had been legislated for the 2018/19 financial year.

"The contents of these regulations are just a confirmation of the salary increments for MPs and holders of statutory positions for the 2018/19 financial year.

"The portfolio committee has considered the regulations and has advised itself to approve the report and I therefore propose for the House to approve the report," Mr Mosito said.

But legislator Kimetso Mathaba, who is also the leader of the National Independent Party (NIP), said increasing the salaries at this juncture now would only further deplete the fiscus.

"This report should not be approved by the house. Given that the increments are with effected from 1 April 2018, this means there would be arrears which will have to be paid from that date onwards. I therefore recommend that the House should not accept these regulations," Mr Mathaba said.

Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader and Mahobong legislator, Mothetjoa Metsing, concurred saying the regulations needed to be further discussed before being adopted.

Democratic Congress legislator, Serialong Qoo said, "We have no interest in this thing whatsoever".

National Assembly Speaker, Sephiri Motanyane, then put the issue to vote and the majority voted to defer the deliberations on the salary increments to a date that will be announced in due course.

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