MPs Say They Give Money Allocated for Bodyguards to Charity
|November 25, 2012||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – In face of increasing criticism, Kurdish MPs say that they give some money allocated to them by Iraqi Parliament to hire bodyguards, to charity.
One MP says he has hired a number of people with “disabilities and needs” as his bodyguards. “I help them this way,” he says.
Providing security for MPs costs Iraq a substantial amount of money. However, not all bodyguards are active, and some of them are only bodyguards on the payroll.
Mala Uzer Hafiz, a Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) MP, says he has a number of bodyguards. “But we use the money allocated for the bodyguards for charity work,” he says. “Last year, I took the money to Anfal victims in Garmiyan.”
Each Iraqi MP has 30 bodyguards. Some MPs in the center and south of Iraq use all 30 bodyguards due to the instability in their areas.
Usama Jamil, a KIU MP, says, “Some Arab MPs have hired five more bodyguards out of their own pockets to protect their family members.”
Kurdish MPs in Iraqi Parliament only have five to eight bodyguards due to the stable security situation in the Kurdistan Region. Therefore, a number of Kurdish MPs allocate the money they receive for use in different areas.
Sirwan Ahmed, an MP from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) who represents Kirkuk city in Iraqi Parliament, says he receives money for 30 bodyguards but he only has eight.
Regarding budgets he receives for the other 22, Ahmed says, “I give the money to the poor and needy and those who cannot work. I distribute the money with the supervision of the PUK committees in Kirkuk city.”
Ahmed added that he is paying the monthly salary of a large number of people. “I distribute money to poor families,” he says. “The parliament asks for the name and signature of 30 bodyguards, but we take 30 other names and signatures.”
Ahmed says that, if MPs take the money for themselves, they are cheating. “The government has allocated that money to hire 30 bodyguards to protect the MP,” he said.
Iraqi Parliament has 325 MPs. If each MP has 30 bodyguards, the number of bodyguards totals 9,750. Each bodyguard’s monthly salary is 910,000 Iraqi dinars (Approx. US$750). The total amount dedicated to bodyguard salaries is 3.4 billion dinars (Approx. US$3 million)
Moreover, each MP is paid 8 million dinars as a monthly salary. The total amount paid to MPs is 31.2 billion dinars (US$27 million).
However, some sources claim that, with the salary and all the other expenses paid to each MP, the amount totals 32 million dinars for each MP.
During the past elections campaign, Jamil vowed to pay his salary to needy people if he won the election. Jamil has been an MP for the past two years. “I continue to help poor families,” he says. “I pay salaries to 25 families.”
Jamil added that the stability in Kurdistan offers a good opportunity for Kurdish MPs to help poor families.
In the first year of the latest term, parliament paid 7.5 million dinars to each MP to distribute to poor families in their respective areas. But the money was paid only once.
Hafiz said, “I believe the parliament speakership doubted that the money would make it to the poor families and that is why they stopped paying this amount to MPs.”
However, Shler Aziz, an Iraqi MP from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), disagrees with Hafiz. “We asked parliament to stop paying MPs money to distribute to poor families,” he said.
“It was not the parliament speakership who stopped the money. We asked the parliament speakership to use a different channel to help poor families, not through the MPs,” Aziz added.
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