40 MPs get zero salary over debts
By MONITOR REPORTERS
Posted Monday, February 13 2012 at 00:00
Campaign debts and flashy lifestyles combine to keep MPs at the mercy of loan sharks
About 40 MPs are so indebted that they have no money in their accounts at the end of the month despite earning a take-home package of at least Shs15 million, parliamentary sources have revealed.
About 50 other MPs are left with less than a million shillings after paying off their debts, according to sources in the Parliamentary Commission, undermining their ability to turn down financial favours from the Executive and other power brokers.
Workshops now a lifeline
Sources within the Parliamentary Commission, a body in charge of members’ welfare, told Daily Monitor that most of the first-term MPs are struggling to pay off loans taken to fund their election campaigns while others borrowed to fund lavish lifestyles.
Many of the affected MPs are forced to spend their time attending workshops and field trips to collect per diems, the sources said.
The matter was brought to the fore during the recent opposition MPs’ retreat in Jinja where one of the parliamentary commissioners, Mr Elijah Okupa (Kasilo, FDC) reportedly told his colleagues that about 70 MPs were getting zero pay at the of the month. Other sources in the commission that this newspaper spoke to independently put the figure at 40 with another 50 receiving less than a million.
Mr Okupa, who is privy to MPs’ finances by virtue of his seat on the commission, said most of the members lacked financial discipline as they end up spending their money on big cars, palatial houses and luxuries, as well as supporting poor constituents.