Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend I. Alizade/ Azerbaijani MPs demand service cars. This issue was
raised on 16 November at the Milli Majlis [Parliament] sitting dedicated to the discussion of the parliament budget for 2008.
Some AZN 13,886,351 will be allocated for the maintenance of the Milli Majlis in 2008. 65.6% of these funds are allocated for salary fond and extra charges. AZN 990,000 was allocated for a business holidays. This figure is AZN 200,000 more as compared to 2007. AZN 197,160 is projected for communications service expenses and AZN 307,544 for fuel and lubricants, as well as transportation expenses. This figure is AZN 55,000 more as compared to 2007. AZN 250,000 was allocated for the purchase of vehicles and it exceed the similar figure of 2007 by AZN 73,000.
MP Elmira Akhundova, a member of the permanent parliamentary commission on social policy, said that it is very important to provide MPs with service cars. "The majority of MPs are elected from the regions. We have to often travel the regions to meet with our electors. Hiring drivers at own expense, we spend big part of our salary on drivers and cars," she said.
According to Akhundova, if the Parliament does not have opportunity to provide all MPs with a car, then let the parliament provide female MPs with it. "There are 13 female MPs at the parliament. Five of them do not have service cars. To provide 7 MPs with a car will not cost much" she said.
MP Gudret Hasanquliev, the chairman of the opposition Unified Azerbaijan Popular Front Party supported his counterpart's offer. "The Azerbaijani Government is able to provide all 125 MPs with cars. I have a private car and I am not demanding a service car. Now it is dealt with the image of Milli Majlis," he stressed.
MP Fazail Agamali, the chairman of pro-governmental Ana Veten party, put the issue in a more severe manner. "How will it do, when people working in central offices or holding the posts of division heads hold expensive service cars, while MPs do not have any? Why do MPs face discrimination? We do not need expensive, but quite ordinary cars" said Agamali.
According to Agamali, though last year MPs were expected to be provided with service cars it did not happen. "They explained it with absence of parking for cars and drivers. It can not be the main reason," said the MP. Fazail Ibrahimli, an MP from the oppositional Civil Solidarity Party, said that the Ministry of Finance is negligent of the issues raised by the MPs and the solution of their problems and is unwilling to allocate the necessary funds. " Azerbaijan ahs enough capital to provide MPs with cars and the Government should do that," he said.
MP Siyavush Novruzov, the deputy executive secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, said that it is very important to provide MPs with service cars. "This issue should be taken into consideration in the 2008 public budget of 2008 and appropriate financing should be provided."