Against pay hike by MPs: Dunya

Dunya Maumoon: She is contesting for the South Hulhumale' seat in the 2024 parliamentary elections. (Photo/Dunya Maumoon)

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon, who is running independently for South-Hulhumale' constituency in the upcoming parliamentary election, has said on Tuesday she is against the pay hikes approved by MPs for themselves.

While speaking at the Q&A program by Dhivehi Channel, Dunya said she will actively advocate against the practice of parliament MPs setting their own salaries and allowances. She further said several MPs treated the responsibilities as a lawmaker a trivial matter and refrained from adequately attending parliament sittings while receiving regular pay.

She argues the discretion with MPs to set their salaries and remuneration have been arranged without watchdog protocols.

"We are elected as representatives of our constituents, and we are accountable to them. The public should have the power to remove us from our responsibilities if we fall short in attending them," Dunya said, endorsing the concept of MP dismissal by public vote.

She further said MPs should give priority and full consideration to allocate budget towards the collective benefit of the country, and not only towards the improvement of the constituencies they represent.

"The wastage in public expenditure is quite high, for instance, they are still hiring political appointees. The parliament capacity has expanded as well, so has their remuneration. I will be advocating against these," Dunya said.

Dunya added parliamentarians had a duty towards reducing state expenditure while prioritizing to address the public needs. During the program, she advocated sternly towards better care for the poor and needy.

Speaking in this regard, Dunya emphasized on robust mechanisms to manage tax revenue, which is currently falling short owing to expense wastage by the state. She highlighted some of the expenses incurred for President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu's foreign visits as a primary example of said wastage.

"Foreign visits fall within the purview of foreign affairs, but setting the delegation size, hotel bookings, travel expenses and such, are all expend through the public expenditure. We need a better system to limit this," she argued.

"Modern diplomacy dictates the importance of frugality, and we should not be establishing embassies in foreign locations beyond our capacity."

Back in December 2023, the Finance Committee of the Parliament decided on increasing remuneration for MPs, inclusive of committee allowance, up to MVR 100,000, a decision that attracted crticism several MPs opposing the idea.

In February, parliament moved forward in pay harmonization of government bodies by excluding the legislative body.

With the parliamentary election slated for April 21st, Elections Commission (EC) earlier announced the next assembly will observe an increment of sitting MPs.