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General News of Monday, 21 April 2014


‘Chop broke pot’ allowances anger ordinary MPs

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Ordinary MPs are choking with anger following a decision by Bureau members to award themselves huge allowances, at least FCFA 45 million for the mandate. Regular MPs take home FCFA 10 million each as their car allowances.

The 157 ordinary MPs are questioning how the 23 members of the Bureau could just award themselves exaggerated, or to use the Pidgin English expression, “chop-broke-pot” allowances that add up to a circa FCFA 3 billion. For one thing, the Speaker of the National Assembly takes home a car allowance of FCFA 80 million, while his immediate Vice pockets FCFA 65 million. The five Vice Presidents each enjoy a car allowance of FCFA 60 million. The four Questors have FCFA 50 million each for their cars, while the 12 Secretaries line their pockets with FCFA 45 million each. Besides, every Bureau member is equally paid other allowances of FCFA 12 million each annually.

Moreover, all the 23 Bureau members earn a duty allowance of FCFA 16 million each on a quarterly basis.

They are also given a car repair allowance two years after they receive the car allowance. The car repair allowance is one third of the car allowance. They equally receive amounts ranging from FCFA 4 to 5 million for the upkeep of their offices. They live in free houses and have two cooks each, on the pay roll of the National Assembly. They are also given fuel and telephone allowances. The National Assembly also gives them FCFA 8 million each, for the purchase of what is called the kitchen car.

One MP told The Post that the kind of greed that Bureau members have manifested is “beyond human understanding”. Hear him:

“Bureau members are mostly the ones in the CEMAC Parliament, the Francophonie Parliament, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and all other Parliamentary networks and they are on mission every now and then” He also claimed that most support staff of the National Assembly are recruited surreptitiously, through the Bureau members who bring in their relatives and girl friends, irrespective of whether they are qualified or not. “That is why there is a lot of mediocrity in Parliamentary administration. Someone who is recruited at the National Assembly as a cleaner today is appointed Director tomorrow because of a godfather in the house,” he exclaimed. By his rough estimate, the Bureau member takes home close to 300 million a year, while the ordinary MP wallows in penury.

While taking exception to such greed, an MP of one of the opposition parties in the house wondered if the Bureau members were ‘stealing on behalf of the people’.

“These figures are outrageous enough, even by the Cameroonian standards of kleptomania,” he told The Post. He wondered why the Bureau members were allocating huge car allowances to themselves when the National Assembly bought them ‘Prado Land Cruisers’ recently.

The same situation holds sway at the Senate, where the gap between the ordinary Senator and his Bureau counterpart is very wide. One ordinary MP who complained to The Post on Monday, March 24, said members of the Bureaux of both the National Assembly and the Senate are ruled by appalling avarice. “These fellows are behaving as if they wrote an examination to become members of the Bureaux. “Just look at the car allowance of the Speaker who was elected into Parliament like me. He has FCFA 80 million and I have FCFA 10 million only for the car allowance. Now, look at the yawning gap that makes a difference of 70 million. I am saying that this is an injustice to us and the Cameroonian people,” one MP fumed.

Another MP from the ruling CPDM party said he was surprised that the opposition MPs that are members of the Bureaux did not raise an alarm on such manifestation of greed on the taxpayer’s money. He said he was not asking for an increase in the allowances of ordinary MPs; rather, he was denouncing a clique that decided to feed fat on the tax payer’s sweat for no good reason. Many MPs equally complained that Bureau members are given almost everything for free but that they are still those who take home huge allowances and enjoy special advantages. “They are still the ones who go on almost all the missions and reap huge allowances,” he observed.

The ordinary MPs said the Parliamentary hierarchy is behaving as if not being a Bureau member is a very big crime. One French-speaking female MP told The Post that the FCFA 10 million she is receiving for the car allowance cannot enable her buy a good car that would ease her movements in the very difficult terrain of her constituency.

Juicy Retirement Benefits For The Speaker

Earlier in 2005, the Bureau of the National Assembly signed a text, awarding the Speaker very juicy retirement conditions. That decision awarded the House Speaker an annual allowance of FCFA 18 million upon retirement. This means that he will be entitled to FCFA 1.5 million a month. In addition to that juicy retirement, any former Speaker will have a monthly water allowance of FCFA 150.000, an electricity allowance of FCFA 250.000 and a telephone allowance of FCFA 250.000. According to the decision of the National Assembly Bureau, the retired Speaker will also have 1000 litres of petrol per month.

Any retired Speaker of the National Assembly, the decision spells out, will be provided with an official residence of high standing in Yaounde, including durable furniture. In a situation where the retired Speaker does not take up the official residence, he or she will be compensated with an amount of money to be determined by the Bureau of the National Assembly. The National Assembly is also responsible for providing the former Speaker with a brand new Mercedes 300 or any other car of similar quality. All expenses incurred in the repair of the car, however, will be borne by the Speaker himself. Nonetheless, the National Assembly has the duty to change the vehicle once every ten years until the retiree dies. When he dies, the car becomes property of his or her family. According to article 4 (b) of the Bureau decision, the retired Speaker is supposed to have the following aides: a bodyguard, a driver, a gardener, two watchmen and a Private Secretary with the rank of a chief of service in the central administration. According article 8 of the decision, the National Assembly is charged with picking the medical bills of the retired Speaker and his family. It also states that in case of death, the widow and orphans of the former President have a right to some allowances from the funds reserved for retired MPs. The decision was initiated in 2005.

The move came after two former Speakers of the National Assembly—Hon. Solomon Tandeng Muna and Hon. Lawrence Fonka Shang had long died. It is clear that the first person to enjoy this allowance would be the incumbent Speaker, Cavaye Yeguie Djibril. Although it is considered that such allowances would continue to leave a big hole in the public purse, observers say such juicy retirement conditions could cause people holding high office to leave without being afraid of running into misery.

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