No to 100 percent salary raise for MPs

No to 100 percent salary raise for MPs

I had mixed feelings when I first heard about the demand by MPs for a 100 percent salary increase. In fact I went through a roller coaster of emotions.
My first reaction was that of anger. I was very angry that people who are already earning a lot of money want their salaries increased.
I was angry because I felt the MPs did not care about the plight of thousands of educated and uneducated Basotho youths and young adults that are unemployed and have no money or skills to start their own businesses.

My anger was also flared by the thought of the of the M500 000 interest free loans that the honourable MPs are already bagging almost every two years as the life of Parliament no longer lasts five years. This is money that is just too much of a burden on the economy of a country as poor as Lesotho.
However, when my anger subsided, I noticed that the MPs’ demands may after all not just be all gloom. Like the old adage, every cloud has a silver lining. I saw the silver lining during the First National Plenary on reforms.

The demands by MPs stirred critical thinking for the people that were tasked with looking into how the economy of our country can be reformed. The demands also made the stakeholders look into how the disadvantaged masses that often queue for long hours in the very cold weather to vote can be truly emancipated.

I was lucky enough to join the economy thematic area. Some of the crucial issues that were addressed under this area is the huge government wage bill, including the salaries of the MPs and other government employees, the minute role played by the private sector in job creation and the high unemployment that is rampant in the country.
The participants did not just throw around problems, they also put forth possible long term and short term solutions to the cited problems. One of the solutions that stood out for me was the mention that the MPs should be elected based on credentials.

In addition, we also felt that it does not make economic sense for Basotho to be represented by a whopping 120 MPs. They also lamented that the size of the Cabinet was just too big and felt that the two entities need to be clipped if we are to advance economically.

Moreover, the forum felt that it is of utmost importance to have a fixed Parliament in order to create stability. Stability is crucial for the attraction of foreign investment, an entity that will boost economic growth through job creation and payment of taxes.

As such, I believe the MPs should not get the 100 percent hike that they want. We first need to embark on the reforms processes and get a clear direction of the kind of parliament and the type of MPs that will ensure that we get the Lesotho we want.

There is also need to ensure that the constitution and all other relevant legislation and policies are in place to help us create a Lesotho conducive for a thriving economy before we entertain minor issues such as the increase in salaries for MPs.

Besides, the government of Lesotho in its current state, cannot afford to waste any money as the debts it has are way too many.
Just to mention a few, we know of the pending payments of teachers and the police’s six percent salary increase stalemate that have dragged on for quite some time.
Our MPs should exercise patience as the money that the government of Lesotho currently has cannot in any manner accommodate their demands. I hope they will understand that in these harsh economic times we should all remember “ho itlama mala masesane” meaning to take serious austerity measures.

By: Kelello Rakolobe

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