HALIFAX, N.S. - Nova Scotia's NDP government wants to eliminate a $45,000 special payment to defeated and retired provincial politicians, saying the sum seems "out of line."

A senior government source says the party is using its majority status on the legislature's internal economy board to eliminate the payment under regulations expected to be changed within two weeks.

The source said the change is being made ahead of an expected report on members' expenses by the province's auditor general this fall, because the government thinks it is "the right thing to do and now we're able to do it."

"It didn't meet what we think is the standard of reasonable and accountable."

Payments made since the June 9 election alone total $675,000.

The figure includes payments to 13 defeated incumbents and to recently retired former premier Rodney MacDonald and his deputy premier Angus MacIsaac.

In another change, all taxpayer-supplied office furniture, which former members were formerly allowed to keep, will now remain government property.

That change is expected to be implemented some time early next year.

Neither of the two new changes will be retroactive.

The source also said the government may be looking at other changes, but didn't elaborate.

"In general our caucus has been very comfortable with receiptable expenses that are justifiable in terms of the actual demands made upon an MLA and what they have to do to properly service their constituency," the source said.

All three parties sit on the internal economy board, which traditionally reviews pay increases and automatic cost-of-living increases behind closed doors.

Last month, deputy premier Frank Corbett said there was a possibility those proceedings could open to the public.

Auditor general Jacques Lapointe is expected to make recommendations later this fall on whether all living and rental accommodations should require receipts.

As things stand, members of the legislature are allowed to spend more than their monthly allowance on accommodations without receipts.

Some in the private sector have said politicians need to place tighter controls on their spending.

In an interview last month, Leanne Hachey of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business noted that salaries for members of the legislature have increased about 91 per cent in the last 10 years to $86,000.

In addition she said unreceipted monthly living expenses for out-of-town legislators had doubled from $700 to slightly more than $1,400.

Latest From ...