MPs yesterday criticised the media for highlighting a move to reinstate lifetime pensions for elected and appointed public representatives despite being shot down.

MP Mohammed Al Rifaee accused the Press of intentionally highlighting the move despite it being rejected, as if MPs were actually considering it.

He was backed by services committee chairman Mohammed Al Hussaini who said the move was dead and MPs had buried it.

MP Maryam Al Sayegh stirred a controversy on social media last week with her comments on reinstating the pension law.

However, she clarified yesterday that she voted against the move and that she just asked for voluntary contributions to be open for MPs so their years would be calculated as service.

Of the 31 MPs present in Parliament during its weekly session last week, 26 voted against reinstating the 2009 MPs, Shura Council and Municipal Council Members’ Pension Law, four abstained and only Jalal Khadim endorsed the proposal.

Under the rejected legislation, public representatives would have be entitled to annual increases in pensions similar to others in the private, government and military sectors.

The legislation also sought to remove the BD4,000 monthly cap on the pensions.

A bill that overhauled pension packages, with trimmed benefits for elected and appointed officials, was approved in October 2018 by the then Parliament and Shura Council.

Prior to that, representatives qualified for a lifetime pension equal to 50 per cent of their monthly wage after serving a four-year term, 80pc after serving two terms and 90pc for three or more terms – in addition to a regular state pension.

Now, they qualify for a one-month bonus for each year of service during the four-year term.

The 2018 rules for public office positions do not apply to those who held such roles before the measure was adopted – meaning only those coming to office from 2018 have been affected.

As a result, long-serving representatives elected before and after the rule fall in both the categories as they continue to receive pensions, along with bonuses.

Under a decree issued by His Majesty King Hamad last year, public representatives who lose their seats are allowed back to their original workplaces in the same, or higher, positions.

Separately, second deputy speaker Ahmed Qarata urged the government to expand the alternative sentencing programme to include more beneficiaries.

He was backed by others stating it would bring joy and happiness into families as their breadwinners would amongst them serving their sentences.

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