KATHMANDU, April 27: Staff at the parliament secretariat have been receiving allowances equal to 80 percent of their salary, in addition to their regular salary and snacks allowance, and this has been going on for nearly four months now on the basis of a dodgy decision.
The Parliament Secretariat Management Committee had decided to provide the 80 percent extra allowance to parliament staff in April 2014 after the latter demanded the extra amount, citing their work load during the constitution drafting period.
The decision on extra allowance expired in January . After the government announced early polls, parliament's term also expired . But staff at the parliament secretariat still enjoy their 80 percent allowances though their office has had no major work for nearly four months now.
Sources at the parliament secretariat informed that nearly 250 staffers at the parliament secretariat have been enjoying the extra allowances . The state has been spending over 7 million a month for the allowances and for snacks for parliament staff. They also receive Rs 250 a day for lunch and snacks during office days.
The sources claimed that General Secretary at the parliament secretariat Manohar Bhattarai and Secretaries Birendra Bahadur Karki and Himlal Subedi decided to continue the 80 percent allowances without any 'valid' reason. “Only the Parliament Secretariat Management Committee, which is headed by the speaker, has the authority to take such a decision, but the staff have all remained mum even though the decision was taken when the posts of speaker and deputy speaker were vacant,” said the sources.
The management committee comprises the speaker, the deputy speaker, the general secretary and secretaries at the parliament secretariat. “Interestingly, the Finance Ministry has been allocating the budget for the allowances and the Office of the Auditor General has also remained silent,” the sources added.
The earlier decision of the management committee to provide the 80 percent allowances to parliament staff had caused controversy as the remuneration of the staff exceed that of the elected lawmakers. The decision was taken although the Finance Ministry gave its nod for only 60 percent allowance. Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara has remained silent over the issue as the decision was endorsed when he was finance minister.
Civil servants at the Election Commission and the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority legally receive extra allowances in addition to their salary. Civil servants deployed at the offices of the prime minister, the president and the auditor general also receive 80 percent allowances in view of their work load.
“Such allowances should be brought under certain criteria and policy and should be based on work performance. But the government agencies with access to power have arbitrarily decided to award thermselves allowances and the Finance Ministry has been forking out the budget without any regard to performance,” said Som Bahadur Thapa, who worked for over two decades at the parliament secretariat.