Time to reign in MLA expenses

Staff ~ The Amherst Citizen
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There has been a longstanding conviction that members of the Nova Scotia legislature are freewheeling when it comes to personal expenses. That observation has crystalized with the release of a report indicating taxpayers paid out a whopping $7.3 million last year that included everything from constituency offices to high-priced apartments in Halifax for out-of-town members.

There has been a longstanding conviction that members of the Nova Scotia legislature are freewheeling when it comes to personal expenses. That observation has crystalized with the release of a report indicating taxpayers paid out a whopping $7.3 million last year that included everything from constituency offices to high-priced apartments in Halifax for out-of-town members.

This staggering amount is 63 per cent more than expenditures of $4.6 million five years ago. The average expenses billing per MLA was $208,000.

To be certain, there is a cost of doing business and sometimes it can be expensive. But there is one element in the private sector that is the antithesis of life in the MLA lane. That is, all expenses must be backed up with receipts. Its more than accepted practice, its business law 101.

As it presently stands, MLAs arent required to produce receipts for some of their expenses. Why not? This situation leaves the door open for speculation that every MLA has a hand in the cookie jar, whether its warranted or not.

In fact, an independent commission on salaries last year suggested a review of the expense structure, observing there is a deeply held conviction that MLAs benefits are open to widespread abuse.

Last September the government announced an expense review would be undertaken. So far ... zero. The time is now for such consideration.





Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Halifax

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