Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Government stops paying legislators extra money for security

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government has decided to stop paying a monthly allowance so that parliament members can hire their own security and instead provide each of them with up to 20 policemen for protection, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Tuesday.

The measure appears to be a step to control spending. Lawmakers had been receiving 10 million dinars (US$8,000) a month to pay for up to 20 guards. A guard earned an average of 500,000 dinars (US$400) a month.

Some legislators who live in the Green Zone had been hiring fewer guards and pocketing the rest of the allowance.

Al-Dabbagh said there could be exceptions for key legislators who live outside the Green Zone.

Legislators have come under attacks in the past and a number of politicians have been assassinated since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime following the 2003 U.S. invasion.

In April, a bomb exploded in the parliament's cafeteria, killing Sunni legislator Mohammed Awad.

Since then security has become very tight in and around parliament building where everyone including legislators must be searched.


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