(MENAFN - Jordan Times) If the Senate does not approve giving parliamentarians lifetime pensions, several deputies are threatening to effectively paralyse the Lower House by boycotting sessions and preventing them from proceeding due to lack of quorum.
A deputy, who preferred to remain unnamed, told The Jordan Times yesterday that 15 to 20 MPs plan to boycott the House sessions if the Senate refuses to endorse the 1999 amendments to the Civil Retirement Law, under which Parliament members are to be given lifetime pensions.
According to Article 79 of the House bylaw, a session should be adjourned if attended by less than two-thirds of the chamber's 120 members, but the MPs in question are counting on the fact that full attendance at sessions is rare.
Describing his colleagues' demand as "righteous, logical and objective", the MP added that out of 180 Parliament members, only 37 deputies and 15 senators do not receive lifetime pensions.
He added that in their threat to boycott the sessions, the deputies want to deliver a message to senators and Cabinet members that "either you give us pensions or you do not enjoy them".
"Logically, either all MPs, senators and ministers should receive pensions for life, or none of them should," he said over the phone yesterday.
Although he agreed that deputies should enjoy the same benefits that senators and ministers enjoy, Southern Badia MP Hamad Hajaya stressed that "no matter what, deputies should focus more on other important issues, paramount of which are the reform-related laws".
Hajaya said, however, that granting a small group of deputies and senators lifetime pensions would not add that much burden to the state budget, adding that some MPs have no other sources of income and if they leave the House without being paid, they will not be able to support their families.
"Actually, the whole story was exaggerated," Hajaya told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday, adding that "most people describe deputies as opportunistic and greedy, unaware that a great majority of members of both Houses already have pensions for life".
He also pointed out that deputies are not greedy, but rather "they just seek to be treated equally as other members of previous parliaments".
He also cast doubt on the seriousness of his colleagues' threat to boycott the House sessions, noting that "they are not that stubborn".
"All that happened is that some deputies refused to attend Sunday's session in protest against the Senate Legal Affairs Committee's rejection of their amendments to the 2012 Passports Law," he said, "but they all came shortly afterwards and attended the session".
On Sunday, the Senate Legal Affairs Committee rejected deputies' amendments to Article 9 of the 2012 Passports Law, under which Royal family members, as well as serving and former premiers, ministers, Royal Court chiefs, King's advisers, senators, MPs and chief Islamic justices are to be given permanent diplomatic passports.
The panel also postponed looking into amendments to the 2010 Civil Retirement Law, which were rejected by the Lower House.
Late last year, deputies rejected amendments to the 2010 Civil Retirement Law made by the government of former prime minister Samir Rifai.
Under the previous government's amendments, members of both Houses were not to be given lifetime pensions, but MPs insisted instead on reinstating the 1999 amendments to the 1959 legislation, which granted MPs and senators pensions for life.