It has been decided to increase the monthly benefits granted to MPs, while each MP is also set to be provided with an insurance cover worth Rs 1 million. A proposal to this effect had been submitted by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene to the Select Committee on Parliamentary Affairs.
Sources said the Select Committee had unanimously approved the Speaker’s proposal.
The Speaker in submitting the proposal had noted the two previous Governments had failed to increase the monthly benefits granted to MPs.
He had said the non-increase of the monthly benefits had also affected retired MPs. Sources said former Chief Government Whip and Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle had mooted a similar proposal back on 23 November 2006 ahead of its ratification and the latest proposal had also been ratified accordingly.
If the said proposal is to be ratified, it then has to be approved by the House according to Article 68 (1) of the Constitution.
Even the salary increments for Judges are granted based on Article 108 (1) of the Constitution. During the previous regime the then Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella tabled a proposal for the salary increments of MPs but the then Opposition had objected resulting in it being shelved.
As per the Article 108 (1) of the Constitution the basic salary of the Chief Justice had been set aside at Rs. 145,000, the basic salary of Justices in the Supreme Court and the President of the Court of Appeal being stipulated at Rs 135,000 and the basic salary of the other Justices serving at the same Court being set at Rs 131,500. A final decision on the granting of a Rs 1 million insurance cover for MPs had been reached at the meeting held by the Select Committee on the evening of 9 March and it is to be handled by the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation.
In the morning of the same day this issue had also been deliberated by the House Committee. It is said that Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardene had insisted that the insurance cover for MPs should be provided as soon as possible.
Among those who had been involved at this meeting were Speaker Abeywardene, Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella, Ministers Chamal Rajapaksa, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Prof. GL Peiris, Dullas Alahapperuma, Mahinda Amaraweera, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Prasanna Ranatunga, SJB MPs Gayantha Karunathileka, Ranjith Maddumabandara, Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka, Rauff Hakim, Rishad Bathiudeen and SLPP MP Dilan Perera.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By J.T. de Silva)