MPs’ ‘bonus’ triggers nation-wide backlash

House Permanent Office says remuneration not for lawmakers, and only for two months

(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — A controversial and ill-timed decision to allocate a JD200 bonus to Lower House members has sparked nationwide anger forcing the House’s Permanent Office to issue a denial on Tuesday. اضافة اعلان

The bonus was said to compensate the deputies for the recent rise in gasoline prices and was taken one day after the government approved a new hikes in fuel prices, the third in as many months.

Deputies had said that the JD200 per month bonus was to compensate for fuel rises. The average monthly salary of a lawmaker is JD3,500.

Legal experts interviewed by Jordan News stressed that the decision violates the law, and will add to the suffering of the citizens who have to cope with price hikes and cash shortages.

Advocate Hassan Al-Hattab, representative of the Geneva based International Committee for Human Rights, said the increase is a clear violation of the Constitution and the Lower House bylaws, and that it burdens an already exhausted public budget without justification.

Hattab said the government should not have resorted to the latest hike in fuel prices when global crude prices are stabilizing, reiterating that the bonus is a provocation of citizens, a violation of the General Budget Law and of the Constitution.

Lawyer Laith Nasraween said if the increase in the salaries of MPs proves to be real, it will be in clear violation of the provisions of the Constitution, specifically of Article 76/2, which stipulates that members of the House of Representative shall only receive allocations determined by law.

Deputy Saleh Al-Armouti, however, said that the recent allocations does not violate the Constitution since deputies’ salaries did not increase, and that JD100 was provided as a transportation allowance and another JD100 was given for legal research.

He stressed that these funds were not given by the government, but from allocations granted in the budget to the House.

In the midst of the public uproar surrounding the bonus decision, the Permanent Office of the House of Representatives said on Tuesday that the remuneration paid to the directors of the offices of representatives, amounting to JD200, was for a period of two months only.

The office added in a statement that the remuneration was given in recognition of the work pressure office managers worked under when the House was in recess in the months of June and July this year.

It indicated that the remuneration would have been disbursed from the “rewards item” in the parliament’s budget, which is being disbursed by virtue of the powers granted to the Speaker of the Lower House and the Permanent Office, and that the government would not incur additional expenditures as a result.

“All the false news reported by some media and social media sites about the increase in deputies’ salaries is completely untrue, as the deputies do not receive salaries since they are not considered employees, but are elected representatives whose monthly remuneration does not entitle them to receive pensions, according to the Constitutional Court Decision No. 2 of 2014,” it added.

It stressed that the Parliament is aware of the extent of financial pressure the Jordanian citizen are subjected to as a result of high fuel prices and the high prevalence of unemployment and poverty.

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