By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Member of Parliament for Banjul South, Honourable Fatoumatta Touma Njai, on Thursday, opposed the proposed increment in remunerations for Members of the National Assembly in the 2023 budget.
In her submission during the budget debate, Honourable Touma Njai asked fellow parliamentarians not to allow their salaries to be increased because they are in the House to serve their people, not themselves.
“We the members are here to serve our people, (but) not to rely on poor taxpayers’ money to enjoy,” she said.
Njai revealed that she is embarrassed to call herself an Honourable Member of Parliament, where D6 billion is proposed for salaries alone.
“I gave myself for service, but I did not give myself for the poor people to feed me and my family. Honourable Speaker, when I saw this, I felt embarrassed. I didn’t even want to come to this budget session because I said to myself, there is no need because we (MPs) are just sharing the cake into our pockets going home feeding ourselves,” she stressed.
The Banjul South MP went on to say that the proposed allowance ‘is too much for them as people’s representatives.
“It’s embarrassing for me to go back to my poor people and tell them that from the meager resources of this country. I am paid that much at your expense. I took an oath to serve and to give back to my society, not to enrich myself. And even in the Constitution, it is stated that we should not deliberately enrich ourselves. So increasing our salaries is deliberately enriching ourselves, and that is an embarrassment,” said Njai.
She pointed out that the proposed salary increment of the Speaker of the National Assembly from 658,534.00 to 1,560,000.00; is an example of this excess, emphasising that the proposal is an embarrassment as a member of Parliament.
“We offer ourselves for services. Honourable Speaker, we are not appointed, but we were elected. We offered ourselves, and I think we should think of our people when we are doing the budget,” she said.
Njai made the remarks during the ongoing National Assembly debate on the 2023 budget tabled by the Honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs on 14th November 2022.