Gas prices may be down, but a government board approved an extra $8,000 in gas mileage money for provincial politicians yesterday.
Though gas prices are about 40 cents per litre cheaper than they were this time last year, mileage for civil service employees went up by .4 cents per litre. Yesterday the Internal Economy Board approved the same increase for MLAs.
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The cost for the 52 MLAs so far, retroactive to April 1, is about $8,000 according to Speaker of the House Charlie Parker.
The mileage rate for employees and politicians went from 40.51 cents per litre to 40.92 cents per litre. If you do the math, it means MLAs have travelled about 200,000 kilometres in the past four months.
“It surprisingly adds up. Members travel from Yarmouth to Halifax, from Glace Bay to Halifax several times a month,” he said.
Parker said the mileage rate went up because it is tied to the cost of living index, not just the price of gas.
“There’s other costs to it,” he said. “Your insurance, your repairs, capital costs and so on.”
The Internal Economy Board meeting was Parker’s first since becoming Speaker after the NDP election victory. All MLAs who were defeated in that election were given $45,000 to close constituency offices and other housekeeping matters, but did not have to show receipts for any of that money.
That sum was on top of severance/pensions and a separate $12,000 fund for housekeeping matters requiring receipts.
Parker said he may look at cutting down on unaccountable expenses by politicians.
“That might be something that could be under review. It’s not right at this time but it may be something that should be considered,” he said.
Auditor General Jacques Lapointe is currently auditing the speaker’s office and its $32-million budget, with a report expected in the fall.