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MLAs fine-tune expenses

MLAs reinstated a series of perks including maid services yesterdayafter accidentally throwing them out the window in the wake of theexpense scandal.

MLAs reinstated a series of perks including maid services yesterday after accidentally throwing them out the window in the wake of the expense scandal.

In the first-ever public meeting of the Internal Economy Board on March 2 MLAs rushed to push through a series of reforms to open up the secretive system that led to the expense scandal.

That apparently left them with dirty apartments.

A $1,470 per month apartment allowance ($1,700 for cabinet ministers and opposition leaders) was previously given without need for receipts to cover everything from rental insurance to Internet to parking.

At the March meeting receipts became required for rent, but everything else was left out. Yesterday, at the second open IEB meeting, MLAs amended the rules to once again include those other living expenses.

A motion from Liberal MLA Manning MacDonald had cleaning supplies and hiring maids added to the list of expensible items. The overall limit was not changed.

“It was always the case that members could claim cleaning supplies for their apartment and/or maid service,” said MacDonald, who said he personally did not use a maid.

“It’s not something that was invented here today, it’s been done the 17 years I’ve been here.”
The IEB also decided not to pursue MLAs who refused to reimburse expenses that were within the rules but deemed “excessive” by the auditor general.

Of the 10 who made such claims five voluntarily paid back the amounts.

Four others, including former premier Rodney MacDonald, wrote in explaining why their items were justified. Former fisheries minister Ron Chisholm never responded at all. But Speaker Charlie Parker said yesterday there was no legal means to demand repayment.

Mistake-free
MLAs also voted to have regular, monthly bills such as office rent paid directly from the government. Tory MLA Murray Scott proposed the motion saying it would cut down on MLAs making mistakes in filing expenses.

 
 
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