Tanzanian shock at MPs' $98,000 pay-off

MPs outside parliament in Tanzania - archive shot Image copyright PARLIAMENT OF TANZANIA
Image caption Tanzania's 375 MPs already receive a monthly salary of almost $7,000

The revelation that Tanzanian MPs voted themselves a $98,000 (£60,000) package each to be paid at the end of their parliamentary term has led to shock.

The send-off money, a 274% increase on the amount MPs received in 2010, was endorsed by the treasury at the end of last year, but only reported this week.

"The total sum is enough to build a hospital," one resident told the BBC.

An opposition party leader said it showed a root-and-branch reform of government finances was needed.

James Mbatia said Tanzania had lost the values of its founding father and first leader Julius Nyerere.

"During the Nyerere era, [we] had an ideology as a nation - about how we value the dignity of a human being," the MP and chairman of the NCCR Maguezi told the BBC.

Economist Vincent Leyaro said the move would increase the burden to the taxpayers at a time the government was struggling to raise revenue and was mired in debt estimated at $25bn.

"If this is not curbed by cutting government spending, it will be a problem which will harm the economy and people's living standards," the economics lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme.

The MPs' move would also set a bad precedent, with other civil servants thinking that they should be entitled to more money from the government and ultimately the taxpayer, he said.

The BBC's Basil Mbakile in Dar es Salaam says the news has shocked people in the city who read about it in Thursday's edition of the Citizen newspaper.

One man said the MPs' generosity to themselves was "amazing".

"There is no money in the government. We fail to understand what's going on," he told the BBC.

Tanzania's 375 MPs already receive a monthly salary of almost $7,000.

They also receive $22,200 a year for attending parliamentary sessions and an annual care allowance of about $13,000.

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