Lawmakers from both sides deny receiving Rs. 400,000 salary
Says President’s statements were malicious and misleading
Claim salary insufficient for monthly survival
Kiriella offers to take MPs’ grievances to President
By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent
Lawmakers of both sides of Parliament yesterday openly dished out criticism to President Maithripala Sirisena, for going public with the emolument details of Parliamentarians, in what MPs alleged was an attempt to tarnish their image in the public eye.
United Peoples Free-dom Alliance (UPFA) lawmaker Wimalaweera Dissanayaka, referring to a news report based on a statement made by President Sirisena, held it unfair to give the wrong impression to the public, when MPs are struggling to make ends meet.
“According to media reports, President has stated that each MP receives a total emolument of Rs. 400,000 per month. None of the MPs in this Parliament from either side receive such a large amount of money. Together with all allowances, including the fuel, attendance, and telephone allowances, each member receives little less than Rs. 300,000 per month to pay our fuel bills, telephone, and other expenses. I get an additional Rs. 10,000 for fuel, since I come from Ampara. But the President says each one of us receives Rs. 400,000. So, I would like to ask, who takes this Rs. 100,000, which goes missing? We struggle to live. My monthly fuel bill comes to Rs. 150,000. On top of that, there are weddings and other functions at village level that I need to attend. I also pay taxes on the little money received from Parliament. We are in debt, and this statement by the President is so unjust,” charged UPFA lawmaker Wimalaweera Dissanayaka.
United National Party (UNP) lawmaker Rohini Kumari Wijerathna, supporting UPFA MP Wimalaweera Dissanayaka, held the President’s statements were an attempt to provoke the people through misinforming them. “The President’s statement was not only wrong, but it is malicious too. His intention seems to put us in difficulty in the eyes of people. We do not get that much. But we do not know whether the MPs representing him receive an additional payment to meet Rs. 400,000,” she said.
UNP lawmaker Chaminda Wijesiri charged President Sirisena with making arbitrary appointments to public institutions, which are proven to be white elephants running at a loss. “I checked my salary particulars this morning. The basic salary of an MP is Rs. 54,000. There are other allowances added to this. But the total you receive as a take-home is less than Rs. 100,000,” said MP Wijesiri.
According to UNP lawmaker Thushara Indunil Amarasena, Parliamentarians too have certain costs to shoulder. “The President has shamed us. We do not know which MPs in what country would get such a monthly salary. Our basic salary is Rs. 54,000. The daily fuel cost of an average MP comes around Rs. 5,000 – Rs. 7,000. We have to maintain offices. We have to pay employee salaries. Sometimes we have to spend out of our pockets. The take-home salary does not help us to survive even two weeks,” he claimed.
Minister of Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella held that he would inform the President of the complaints voiced by Parliamentarians. (AH)