Monday, June 05, 2006

MP travels

The press today is quite interested in the expenses incurred by deputies for travel. Al Anbat has a detailed list of the nights spent abroad for each deputy, and to which countries they went. Three deputies (Abdulrahim Malhas, Abdulhafith Heet and Ibrahim Otaiwi) didn't travel at the expense of the parliament at all. The most traveled deputy was Hashem Dabbas, who spent 62 nights abroad, including seven trips to Belgium, two trips to Egypt, and trips to Morocco, Portugal and Tunisia.

Al Ghad reports that two deputies collected per diems for trips that were not made. On the other hand, deputies seem to spend a lot of time inquiring about various conferences and delegations, to the point that some think that the deputies only show up at parliament to ask about the possibility of travel, preferably to countries where the per diems are higher. Addustour has deputy Zuhair Abu Ragheb bickering about how points should be counted and who should and shouldn't go on any given delegation, saying at one time that there are large variations in how many nights each deputy spent abroad, and at the same time saying that specializations of the individuals should be a consideration. He doesn't say that travel should be curtailed because they overspent their allowances in the budget by 400000 dinars. In some cases, the deputies travel to conferences which they know nothing about, creating embarrassing situations for the heads of the delegations.

In all, the parliament spent 1.2 million dinars on travel for its members last year, spending 3505 nights abroad visiting 58 countries (excluding the nights the speaker spent abroad, which were not included in the report).

I believe that travel is a great way to expand people's horizons. Well traveled people tend to be enlightened, cosmopolitan individuals. How else will our representatives appreciate world foods, languages, religions and cultures? It seems to me that this is a good investment. The civilized manner in which affairs are dealt with can clearly be attributed to the democratic traditions of the various countries they visited.

Or not.

7 Comments:

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous jameed said...

The skeptic in me can't help but wonder why the sudden interest in "investigative journalism" from ALL major newspapers. Such reports are rare if any in Jordanian dailies. Is the government going to make a well-versed and strong statement against the behavior of "some" MPs to try to win some public sympathy (apparently terrorists on TV is not working well)? Or in a more extreme scenario, will the parliament be dissolved for "failure of MPs to deliver on their promises and squandering public money"? The latter idea puts a big smile on my face.

 
At 7:36 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Jameed: Investigative journalism requires effort, which is something that Jordanian jounalists tend to avoid. My guess it that some pissed off employee working in the parliament sent a document to all the papers. It can be read between the lines when it says that "only a few chosen employees in the parliament have been allowed to travel". My guess is that the guy leaking the information was one of the ones who was not.

I doubt that the government can get too indignant about this, since they pretty much do the same things.

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger Abu Shreek said...

As much as I enjoyed the list, I have to agree 100% with jameed.
It is either a reminder to the MPs that “the government owns you, and can show your dirty laundry anytime”, or a lame attempt to show “transparency” to hide the bigger stuff.
Since when the MPs financial exploitations are public news??!!

And by the way, can we get such a day/money count on Royal travel and on-set Oprah interviews?!!

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Abu: My guess is that the MP have more dirt on the gov than the other way around. Remember that all this is legal (except taking per diems without traveling), so it only has some snicker value. The BMW issue was much worse than this (3 million compared to 1.2 million). The gov essentially buys off the MP's with such gifts. I sincerely doubt that the gov is behind this, as I said before.

Answering the last question, the answer is no. At least Queen Rania makes us look good in front of the world.

 
At 12:02 AM, Blogger Omar said...

It does not matter why this sort of journalism is springing up...some citizens want to know where their money is going and I think that if its just for leisure then it should be accounted for. Democracy is not one sided or is it?

 
At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Haytham said...

Interesting...

Do they really do their duty there!! I don’t think so, some of them don’t even right their speeches when they discuss an issues, the other question is: Do we have to really vote for them? Give me a reason.

 
At 8:55 PM, Blogger faisal said...

does anybody have any info on this ibrahim otaiwi fellow?? i never heard of him

 

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