THE call by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka that councillors be paid as much as members of Parliament has not gone down well in some ranks.

Idasa manager Len Verwey says increasing councillors' salaries to more than R700000 a year could see much-needed funds being taken away from service delivery.

But with more than 280 municipalities it would be very expensive to equalise salaries, Verwey says.

Jay Kruuse of Rhodes University's public service accountability monitor believes the "remuneration of MPs, MPL's and councillors should be influenced by their performance".

Shiceka has said this week in Cape Town: "Councillors are not remunerated adequately. They work 24 hours a day. People come to their houses all the time. There must be equity between a councillor, a member of the provincial legislature and a member of Parliament."

MPs earn R714618 a year, before benefits, and members of the provincial legislatures earn slightly less. City councillors are paid a total package of R310000 a year, including all benefits, while mayoral committee members get a total of R659000 a year.

Part time councillors in small towns get as little as R9725 a month, excluding allowances.

Human Sciences Research Council senior research specialist Mcebisi Ndletyana said it was a good idea to pay councillors more, as long as the pay increases were not taken out of the municipalities' budgets for service delivery.

"Increasing their salaries would be welcomed as long as the wage bill will not affect the operations of the municipalities," Ndletyana said.