NLD Lawmakers to Forfeit Bonus, Take Pay Cut for Party

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 2 February 2016

RANGOON — The National League for Democracy (NLD), which on Monday entered Parliament as the new ruling party, has implemented a sweeping donation policy to raise party funds.

Outgoing NLD lawmakers have agreed to donate the entirety of their “party pension,” a state-funded gratuity paid for their time served in Parliament, to a party fund. The previous assembly approved a 5 million kyat payout for exiting lawmakers, though NLD members—along with others who only served since a 2012 by-election—will receive 3 million.

“We feel uneasy about taking the money while people are living in poverty,” said Lower House NLD lawmaker Min Thu, who was elected in 2012. “Plus, [party chairwoman Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has guided us to try to be as close to the people as possible. We agreed to contribute our pay to the party, to be used for people-centered services.”

Apart from the gratuity, lawmakers have also agreed to give up a percentage of their salaries to the party fund. In November, just after the NLD’s landslide electoral victory, Suu Kyi told her party’s MPs-elect that they could expect a drastic reduction in salary—somewhere between 25 and 50 percent.

“Anyone in the top positions will see a 50 percent pay cut,” she said, according to a party member present at the meeting. This means that Win Myint, who yesterday was appointed as Speaker of the Lower House, will likely see his salary dive from 3.5 million kyats to 1.75 million.

Some of the extra funds are to be used to pay for party offices, which previously relied on donations from supporters.

Sources have also suggested that Suu Kyi plans to limit speakers to one car; current law allows up to four.

Min Thu said that when the first NLD members took office in 2012, their salaries were slashed by 10 percent—including Suu Kyi’s—right from the onset, and reduced again after Parliament approved a raise for itself in January 2015.

“One hundred thousand kyats went to the party and 150,000 went to development funds run by the party,” he said.