With focus in recent days being put on the issue of housing allowances for the two Deputy Speakers, it has been revealed that there have been changes in the Conditions of Service of political leadership of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).
The Daily Times has in possession minutes of an extraordinary meeting of the PSC, dated July 13, 2014, which mentions Speaker Richard Msowoya, first Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje-Nkhoma, Clement Chiwaya and Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera as those who have benefitted from new perks.
According to the minutes, it was proposed that housing allowance for the Speaker be raised from K450,000 to K750,000 while that of the Deputy Speakers be raised from K150,000 to K550,000.
It was also proposed that housing allowance for Leader of Opposition be raised from K100,000 to K550,000.
“These rates have been derived based on the understanding that in housing locations like Areas 3, 9, 10, 12, 43 and 47, the rentals are going at an average of US $2,500, translating to roughly K1,000,000 for foreigners and the rates slightly lower if the tenant is a Malawian citizen,” reads the document.
It adds: “If these rates are approved, it will ease the process of seeking accommodation in the private sector whereby the honourable members may wish to choose either to be paid from the salary or National Assembly can administer the fund i.e to be given accommodation in lieu of housing allowances.”
According to the same minutes, the PSC approved the proposed rates.
However, according to the minutes, PSC said the Secretariat should be responsible for identifying the houses and paying the rentals to the respective landlords as per contractual agreements.
The minutes also say it was proposed that the National Assembly secretariat should remove the housing allowance item from the payslips of Msowoya, Chilenje-Nkhoma, Chiwaya and Chakwera.
The Daily Times has also seen a copy of revised Conditions of Service for Deputy Speaker dated April 15, 2015 where the housing allowance is indicated as approved by the PSC.
Section 5.1 of the Conditions of Service talks about housing. It says government shall provide standard accommodation at the duty station.
“Where the government is unable to provide such a standard housing, it shall provide housing accommodation per month as stipulated in Appendix 1, in rental value, subject to government valuation,” reads Section 5.1.2.
The cited Appendix 1 shows that allowance for house rent is K550,000.
Section 5.1.3 adds:
“Where the Deputy Speaker opts to occupy his or her own housing accommodation, government shall pay allowance as stipulated in Appendix 1.”
However, according to 2009 Conditions of Service of Deputy Speakers, housing accommodation was valued at K150,000.
It said where the Deputy Speaker opts to occupy his or her own housing accommodation, the provision of being given K150,000 shall apply, subject to government’s approval and valuation.
When asked to say which Conditions of Service are being used, Msowoya, who is chairperson of PSC, referred this reporter to PSC, spokesperson Ralph Jooma.
Attempts to talk to Jooma proved futile as he could not answer our phone calls.
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