By Tabora Bojang
Former Banjul Central NAM has said the controversial D100,000 clothing allowance given to parliamentarians should be paid every year instead of a one-off payment for 5 years.
Ndow, who served a single term before his defeat to independent Abdoulie Njie, claimed D100,000 is not sufficient to cover the clothing needs of lawmakers.
“A lot of people are taking this (clothing allowance) as a contentious issue but for me, it is normal. I believe D100, 000 for 5 years is definitely low, it should have been D100,000 every year. It is not only this allowance that parliamentarians deserve, they also have to be paid telephone and risk allowances. Magistrates and judges are paid these [telephone and risk allowances] but the NAMs are not, even though they have the powers to do so. Parliamentarians in other countries in the sub-region are receiving this clothing allowance and other benefits and they are receiving far more than our NAMs. Even Guinea Bissau parliamentarians are paid more than our NAMs. The basic salary of a NAM is D45, 000, MPs in Guinea Bissau are receiving more than D120,000 and in Senegal the MPs are receiving over D300,000 every month including their risk and other allowances. The NAMs are really defending the interest of the Gambians and so the electorate too should be able to defend the interest of their NAMs,” Muhammed Ndow told The Standard.
He claimed the burden associated with representation is enormous and comes with a lot of risks, hence the need to accord them incentives to efficiently run their legislative works.
“In Senegal, immediately you are elected as a parliamentarian, you have your own apartment in Dakar and that has been in place for decades. We expect Gambia to do similar things for their NAMs. Imagine, it is from their [NAMs] little basic salaries that they share with their electorate.”
Asked if his comparisons present a fair analysis of the country’s economic situations since regional powers like Senegal enjoy bigger economies, Ndow charged: “How about Guinea Bissau? This is why people are saying corruption will never end in The Gambia. Imagine, a NAM will be paid less than a director and you should be performing oversight to that institution. How can you perform oversight? NAMs deserve to be paid more than what they are receiving but for Gambians, I cannot just understand why everybody is talking like this but many of them will be in these positions in the future and they will face it.”