Subject: LUSA: Absenteeism among MPs causes concern

05-11-2002 18:55:00. Notícia nº 4305054…

East Timor: Absenteeism among MPs causes concern

Dili, Nov 5 (Lusa) - An average of 12 percent of lawmakers do not attend sittings of East Timor's parliament and only one in ten of these absentees offers a valid excuse for their non-appearance, a report commissioned by the Dili parliament reveals.

Lusa saw the restricted access document Tuesday, requested by parliamentary speaker Francisco Guterres, which analyses absences of deputies between Sept. 2 and Oct. 23.

Of the 407 non-appearances by MPs in this period - an average of 11 per sitting - 281 were by members of the ruling Fretilin party.

A lack of sufficient MPs in the 88-seat chamber has delayed voting on and the approval of a wide range of legislation. Last month, speaker Gutteres postponed a vote to choose a new deputy-speaker for the assembly.

Guterres told Lusa that MPs "must take responsibility" for the role they perform, while reminding deputies that they faced expulsion from the assembly if they run up five unjustified absences.

"We are aware of all this, I have already called the attention (of party chiefs in parliament) and hope there won't be so many absences in the next session", said Guterres.

President Xanana Gusmao strongly criticized absenteeism amongst MPs in July, saying he would request an investigation of the problem to uncover who were the main culprits.

"This is also corruption. Mental corruption is corruption as they don't work and earn money... I am going to order an investigation and we'll examine this", the Timorese president said.

Timor`s MPs currently have a net monthly salary of USD 450, and receive a daily attendance allowance of USD 2.5.

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