Why is MP Mariam Sajaia not attending Parliament sessions?
The Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and Civil Integration discussed the repeated absence one of its members, MP Mariam Sajaia, during its October 31 meeting. Committee members noted that, despite the fact that Sajaia stated family matters as the reason for her inability to attend parliamentary meetings, her absence might be caused by her current graduate studies at George Washington University's Law School in Washington, DC.
TI Georgia had already addressed the Parliament on this matter on October 21. It appears that Sajaia, who is a member of two parliamentary committees (she is also in the Parliament's Gender Equality Council), attended only one session out of 35 total session held in the period between July and November. However, she still received her full salary.
There is no provision that defines whether studying abroad can be considered an urgent family matter. So far, Parliament has accepted Sajaia’s excuses. However, she has recently missed three sessions without providing any explanation, which should, theoretically, result in a 10 per cent deduction of her salary. The Parliamentary Committee for Procedural Issues and Rules has yet to decide on this issue.
According to parliamentary regulations, GEL 1,790 of an MP’s monthly salary of GEL 4,190 is paid specifically for the execution of his/her responsibilities. Another GEL 400 is also awarded to compensate transportation expenditures. It has yet to be established if an MP residing outside of the country is entitled to receive transportation or other expenses related to his/her job.
Sajaia's continuing absence may constitute a violation of Parliamentary regulations that should be evaluated and, if a violation is found, sanctioned by reducing the representative's salary. Furthermore, the Parliament should discuss what reasons are acceptable to be excused for failing to attend sessions and meetings.
Finally, we urge all Members of Parliament to take their mandate seriously and act according to the duties and responsibilities the voters entrusted them with.