Compulsory contributions?

I’d promised one anonymous reader that I’d give my views on an unrelated comment on “Sustaining happiness”. This was what our anonymous reader had asked: I have been reading about the contribution of the MPs salary towards sustaining thier offices and wondered how that worked. How is accounted for in the election commission. To me, its seems like an advantage over other parties and perhaps something only DPT is capable of right now. given, that PDP has only two members even if they wanted to contribute , it wouldn’t compare.

The comment relates to talk about the DPT requiring their MPs to contribute part of their salaries to maintain party offices in their respective constituencies. It also relates to the DPT’s decision last July that their MPs would contribute 10% of their salaries to the party.

DPT has an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly. And if their MPs decide to finance party offices in their constituencies, that’s their business. So I believe that as long as contributions made by the MPs are in accordance with the law, no one can complain about the advantage that DPT enjoys.

But I’m concerned if the each of their MPs is required to contribute the same amount of money to the party. If that were the case, MPs could be making compulsory contributions to their party. Or be paying some sort of fee. And both are illegal.

Our election laws allow party members, which would naturally include MPs, to make voluntary contributions to their party. They can contribute, but that contribution must be voluntary. Contributions cannot be made compulsory, or forced, on any member. Since I can’t see how 45 persons could agree to voluntarily contribute exactly same amount of money, I believe that such contributions may be illegal. So our anonymous commentator may have a point.

I’d made reference to this in an earlier entry.

Paying commission

Public anxiety over the pay hike issue is on the rise. And a lot of grief and surprise is directed at the huge increase that we, politicians, are expected to get – the pay commission has recommended an increase of 130% for the prime minister, 66% for ministers and 100% for parliamentarians.

The public should be surprised. After all, the previous cabinet had already approved the draft Parliamentary Entitlement Acts and made public what aspiring politicians could expect to earn. And that was essentially Nu 30,000 per month plus 20% for house rent plus a chauffeur-driven car. Everyone knew this. And accepted it.

So most of us had a fairly good idea of what we would get – salaries and other perks – before we joined politics. In fact, many of us were influenced, at least in part, by what we expected to earn. This reality, which some would obviously quickly deny, was, for some reason, disregarded by the pay commission, which has awareded the highest increases to politicians. That’s why the public should be surprised.

But it should also be suspicious. Last July, DPT decided that its 45 parliamentarians would voluntarily contribute 10% of their salaries to their party. How 45 people can all agree to “voluntarily” contribute exactly the same amount is amazing and should, sooner or later, be seriously questioned. But that’s another matter.

For now, consider the obvious: that 10% of 60,000 is 100% more than 10% of 30,000. So while DPT MPs currently “voluntarily” contribute 3,000 per month to their party, they could possibly contribute 6,000 per month. But for that the salaries of MPs would first have to be increased to Nu 60,000.

Surprised and suspicious? You should be.