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Thursday 17 January 2019
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Parliament: House of handouts

With perks ranging from subsidised accommodation, free travel, furniture, transport and entertainment, being a member of Parliament is close to hitting a jackpot.
Lawmakers, who in recent years started demanding free accommodation for apparent safety reasons, have perks that other Namibians can only dream of. This is on top of a salary, which for an ordinary or lowest paid MP is N$600 000 per annum. In the parliamentary offices, MPs receive fully furnished offices which they seldom make use of.
Parliament’s secretariat in the past said MPs are provided with all supporting tools, in order for them to fulfil their duties as public representatives in an efficient and effective manner.
Lawmakers are paid – and quite handsomely at that – to represent the public in parliament from money paid to the government by taxpayers.
In 2014, Namibia Statistics Agency indicated that 60% of Namibian households (283 000 out of 471 300) live on an income of N$1 000 or less a month.
MPs are also entitled to travel in business class when flying out of the country.
As if their impressive salary packages weren’t sweet enough, parliamentarians are also entitled to a host of benefits and perks.
Official documents seen by The Patriot shed some light on the life of a backbencher in the National Assembly. The documents read as follows

Entertainment Allowance
You are entitled to entertainment allowance as indicated above, to cater for official gatherings.

Housing Allowance
The housing allowance is,taxable in terms of the Income Tax Act, 1981 (Act 24 of 1981) and payable only if the Member is not making use of official housing.

Household Furniture Allowance
An amount indicated above may be used provided that the similar condition of service was not claimed at the Minister level.
The household furniture allowance is a once-off payment per term and it is not subject to tax. At the expiry of term of your office, the furniture remains your property.

Medical Aid Scheme
Membership to the Medical Aid Scheme is voluntary and there are two options namely; standard and higher options that you can choose from.
The contribution of the standard option is N$120.00 per main member and N$60.00 per each dependant per month, while the higher option is N$240.00 per main member and N$120.00 per dependant per month.
Kindly take note that you are required to apply for membership within 90 days counted from the date that you were sworn in as a Member of Parliament.
If you apply after 90 days, a waiting period of 120 days will apply before you become entitled to the benefits of membership. This implies that you have to contribute for a period of four months first before any claims is paid out.

Pension Fund
You will contribute 10% of your basic monthly salary while the employer will contribute 25% of your basic monthly salary towards your pension.

Official Air Travel
As a Member of Parliament, you will travel on Business Class.

Leave of absence
As a Member of Parliament, you are not entitled to any leave of absence.
However, you should be informed that in terms of Rule 4 (b) of the Standing Rules and Orders “a Member shall no longer hold his/her seat in the Assembly if the Member is absent from the meetings of the Assembly for 10 consecutive days without leave of the Assembly having been granted.”

Lawmakers’ earnings
Below are the gazetted earnings of lawmakers. National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi and his deputy Loide Kasingo receive annual packages of N$1.1 million and N$780 000 respectively.
Popular Democratic Movement president McHenry Venaani gets N$996 000 per year as leader of the official opposition in the National Assembly, while Swapo’s chief whip Evelyn Nawases-Tayele gets N$882 000. An ordinary lawmaker in the National Assembly earns N$693 000.
National Council Chairperson Margaret Mensah-Williams earns N$1,1 million while an ordinary council member gets N$693 000.




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