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The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Friday approved a budget for its own operations in 2018, which is a significant climb-down from the original demand it sent to the government.
The Assembly’s first proposal was for a budget of 1.49 billion meticais (about 24.4 million US dollars). But with much of the public administration facing expenditure cuts, the government did not see why the Assembly should be exempt from austerity. The limit on Assembly spending with the government has put into the draft state budget for 2018 is 1.065 billion meticais, almost 29 per cent less than the Assembly had demanded.
The Assembly gave way, and the budget passed on Friday is for 1.053 billion meticais, slightly less than the government’s ceiling, and 5.6 per cent less than the Assembly’s 2017 budget of 1.115 billion meticais.
The wages and other remuneration for Assembly staff fall from 162.5 million meticais in the 2017 budget (and 172.9 million in the Assembly’s initial proposal) to 132.1 million. The amount earmarked for goods and services falls 216.2 million meticais in the 2017 budget to 196.2 million next year.
But the largest item in the budget, as usual, is “other personnel expenses” – which is a coy way of referring to the wages and other allowances paid to the deputies themselves. This includes the deputies’ monthly wages, allowances for constituency work, rent allowances, payments for attending parliamentary commissions, and sundry other expenses. This item in the budget falls from 584.7 million meticais in 2017 to 489.3 million for 2018. The Assembly’s initial proposal had been to hike the payments to deputies to 768.1 million meticais.
In per capita terms each deputy will receive an average of 163,794 meticais (2,685 US dollars) a month in the coming year. The figure for 2017 was 195,696 meticais a month. By way of comparison the current statutory minimum wage in the public administration is 3,996 meticais a month.
The 2018 budget was passed by 127 votes to 79. All deputies of the ruling Frelimo Party voted for this slimmed down budget, and all opposition deputies voted against.
Both the former rebel movement Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) claimed that the budget had been forced on the Assembly by the government and was intended to emasculate it.
“This is a budget that seeks to weaken and trivialise the parliament”, exclaimed Renamo deputy Juliano Picardo, while Ricardo Tomas claimed the budget “is intended to stop the Assembly from functioning”.
No opposition deputy suggested why the government should wish to emasculate a body where its own supporters in Frelimo enjoy a comfortable majority. And nobody mentioned the obvious conclusion from the figures – which is that the deputies themselves will receive less money in 2018 than they did in 2017.