A Jordanian man is planning to sue members of the 17th Parliament for granting themselves lifetime pensions. 

Mahmoud Abu Hilal, a resident of Zarqa, some 22km east of Amman, told The Jordan Times that he will lodge a legal complaint against deputies and senators at the Amman prosecutor general’s office on Monday, adding that he consulted a group of lawyers who agreed that MPs should not benefit from civil retirement because they are not public employees. 

Asked about the motives behind the planned legal action, Abu Hilal said as a voter he was “provoked by the action of the lawmakers who are supposed to defend the interests of the public and not seek personal benefits”. 

“I just felt it was too much,” the 48-year-old member of the Jordanian Writers Association said.  

Abu Hilal questioned whether MPs, “who spend millions of dinars on their election campaigns”, need pensions. 

“They are all wealthy. Why do they need to take advantage of public funds?” 

Advocate and legal consultant Omar Aljazy explained that the complaint is “legally faulty”, because the lawmakers’ decision can only be challenged once it is endorsed and approved by His Majesty King Abdullah.

Aljazy expected the prosecutor general to shelve the case until a decision is taken regarding the lawmakers’ decision.

Commenting on the legitimacy of Parliament’s endorsement, he said MPs are not public sector employees; therefore they are not eligible for pensions.

“Members of the United Kingdom’s House of Commons do not enjoy pensions.”

On Thursday, Parliament decided to grant its members lifetime pensions equal to that of ministers, under the draft civil retirement law, after introducing some changes to a previous version in 2012 which the King rejected.

The bill includes a provision that sets a minimum of seven years of service in the post as an eligibility requirement for deputies, senators and ministers. In addition, the bill grants all lawmakers who were members of Parliament on May 20, 2010 and henceforth the same benefits. 

If the law goes into effect, lawmakers’ pensions will be calculated based on a minister’s basic salary, which is JD3,000 per month.

The cost of the lawmakers’ decision, which has enraged the public, is expected to reach around JD6 million a year, a figure that will increase every new parliamentary term, if the law is enacted.