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Monday, July 22, 2024

New National Assembly salaries, pensions bill explained

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By Tabora Bojang

A senior official of the National Assembly has claimed that the National Assembly Salaries and Pensions Bill 2024, which many believe seeks to increase salaries and allowances, is instead only aiming to repeal the existing law pertaining to the emoluments of NAMs and provide a new legislative framework for payment of their salaries, allowances, gratuities and pensions.

The controversy surrounding the bill mainly centered on the amounts in salaries, residential/house rents, allowances, cars allowances, clothing and responsibilities allowances paid to the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and lawmakers.

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It shows the annual salary of the Speaker at D1.2 million, Deputy Speaker at D840,000, majority leader at D702,684, minority leader at D663,000, while deputy majority leader, deputy minority leader and other NAMs at D624,000.

It also includes a basic car allowance of D600,000 to all members, the speaker and deputy speaker, a D180,000 residential/house rent allowance to all members and the deputy speaker, and D480,000 for the speaker. There is also a D360,000 responsibility allowance for the speaker, D300,000 for deputy speaker, D270,000 for majority leader, D240,000 for minority leader and D120,000 for a deputy majority and minority leader.

But the official who wished to remain anonymous told The Standard that “there is no single butut that this bill adds to members’ pay.”

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He said the schedule contained in the bill about salaries and allowances is just for transparency purpose but these monies were already approved in the budget and the Appropriation Act.

“Principally, the new bill is only addressing two issues, to cater for payment of gratuity to a NAM who couldn’t complete his or her term due to death or otherwise and for a NAM who completes the residual term of another member,” the Assembly official added.

He said the bill will empower an Assembly Standing Committee to conduct a periodic review of salaries and allowances and submit its recommendations to the Finance and Public Accounts Committee to report to the plenary for adoption.

In its review, the Standing Committee shall make considerations about the cost of living, Gambia’s economic conditions, practices in other countries and the importance of Parliament in democratic governance.

According to the bill, a 25 percent gratuity shall be paid to the next of kin of a sitting NAM who dies in office after serving for at least one year. This gratuity will be 25 percent of the aggregate emolument the deceased member had received during his or her membership.

Furthermore, a member who is recalled or resigned one year into his term will be paid a 25 percent gratuity to be based on the aggregate emoluments he or she receive during membership in the Assembly.

The bill also states that a 25 percent gratuity shall be paid to a person who completes a residual term of a member who dies, resigned or recalled by the electorate.

A NAM, who carries out duties of another government office, may only be entitled to one gratuity either from the other office or under the Assembly but shall not receive both. These gratuities shall be paid from the Consolidated Fund.

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