The perks of being a Member of Parliament (MP) are getting better.

Should the fourth Pay Commission’s recommendations be endorsed the gross salary of an MP would be about Nu 131,000, more than the Cabinet Ministers’ current salary, according to a rough calculation.

The existing gross salary of MPs is about Nu 116,000. This means that MPs would be richer by Nu 15,000 in terms of gross salary.

The recommendations are subject to endorsement by the upcoming session of Parliament slated to begin from May 23. The pay commission report states that the hike is proposed in view of the increased cost of living and inflation.

According to the Pay Commission report, the proposals were sought from the National Assembly. It states, “The National Assembly forwarded the proposal on revision of the pay, allowances and benefits recommended of the MPs by the National Committee on Parliamentary Entitlements.”

The proposed monthly basic salary is Nu 75,165, an increase from Nu 65,930 (existing). Accordingly, the total allowances, which include allowances for house rent, fuel and communication roughly amounts to Nu 56,500.

At 30 percent of the basic salary, the house rent allowance comes to Nu 22,549. The existing house rent allowance is Nu 19,780, which means that the allowance would increase by Nu 2,796.

The commission has recommended a lump sum house rent allowance at 20 percent of the revised basic pay for civil servants.

The commission has proposed increasing the driver’s allowance from the existing Nu 8,505 to Nu 10,000. The report states that the existing driver’s allowance is Nu 6,000, which was revised in 2014.

Most MPs have not employed drivers, saying that the existing allowance is not enough for them to employ a full-time driver. They also argued that the entitlement does not mandate them to employee a driver.

However, the Parliamentary Entitlements Rules and Regulations 2018 states that a MP is entitled for the allowance “for employment of a personal driver” at the rate approved by Parliament from time to time.

Some of the members said they would prefer a duty vehicle to the lump sum amount. But the government cannot provide pool vehicles for MPs under the Parliamentary Entitlement Act 2014. This is because Section 20 of the Act states that every MP shall be provided with a lump sum amount to purchase a vehicle free of customs duty and sales tax of a vehicle not exceeding 3000 cc and a monthly driver allowance.

If the fourth pay commission recommendations were approved, the monthly fuel allowance would be increased from Nu 8,000 to Nu 10,000. The report however, mentions the existing fuel allowance at Nu 7,000 a month.

According to the entitlement rules, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the National Council shall be entitled to monthly basic salaries at the existing pay scale in the beginning of one’s five-year term. Such Pay Scale shall be computed at the rate of 10 percent higher than the other Members. A Member shall also be reimbursed the visa fee and airport tax on production of original receipts/documents.

“A Member who is the head of the delegation on official travel abroad shall be entitled to claim other incidental expenses towards buying of official gift(s) and/or offering of tips, at the rate applicable to cabinet minister heading the delegation,” the rules states. 

The biggest beneficiary of the raise is the prime minister, whose salary is raised from Nu 180,000 to 205,200. His gross increase is Nu 25,200.

The salary of Cabinet ministers, opposition leader, the National Council Chairperson and Speaker is proposed to be increased from Nu 130,000 to Nu 148,000.

The commission has recommended replacing the existing vehicle import quota with an option of Nu 1.5M. This is in addition to the lump sum amount for purchase of vehicles.

The commission has not suggested changes on the existing allowances for voucher (Nu 5,000), telephone (2,000) and vehicle maintenance (Nu 7,000) for MPs.

The commission has recommended domestic helper allowance, whose salary and benefits will be at par with the proposed salary of Elementary Support Personnel for the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers. The proposed salary of ESP is Nu 9,000, an increase from Nu 7,000.

MB Subba