The Business Committee of Parliament has instructed secretariat to deduct allowances of legislators who absent themselves from proceedings without informing the Speaker.
But at the time Speaker Richard Msowoya announced the new arrangement, there were 16 members of Parliament (MPs) on the government side, including independents, and less than 30 on the opposition side in a House of over 190 members.
The current mid-year budget meeting has been characterised by high absenteeism on both sides of the House such that on several occasions, Parliament has had to adjourn early.
Communicating the decision after a Business Committee meeting yesterday, Msowoya said a resolution had been made that the secretariat should enforce Standing Order 41 (3) which states: “A member, who is absent without seeking leave of absence, shall forfeit all allowances during the period of absence.
“The Business Committee has noted the high absenteeism of members in the past two weeks and has resolved that leadership of each political party should brief its members about the necessity of attending each sitting as outlined in Section 41 of the Standing Orders,” he said.
According to Standing Order 206 (3), the Speaker can grant leave of absence on the two grounds of illness or family to emergency or to enable an MP attend to public business locally or abroad.
MPs get K40 000 per day as subsistence allowance and K10 000 sitting allowance which is paid out before the meeting starts.
However, this was not the first time the Business Committee made such a resolution as a similar one that political parties should have an attendance register did not bear fruits.
The House is expected to meet for four weeks, including one week set aside for responses and general debate on Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe’s mid-term budget statement which he delivered last on Friday.
The minister is expected to wind up debate on February 26 and the changes to the budget approved by Thursday March 1 before Parliament rises sine die on Friday, March 2. n