By LEVINA KATO, 2nd March 2010 @ 21:02 THE National Assembly chamber in Dodoma can only accommodate 360 Members of Parliament (MPs), limiting plans by the government and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to increase the number of parliamentarians. The Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (Policy, Co-ordination and Parliamentary Affairs), Mr Philip Marmo said the government has already resolved to raise the percentage of women representatives in the House from 30 to 40, while NEC is working on proposals to carve more constituencies. He said more women MPs would be elected in constituencies, where a ten per cent allocation has been made. The current total number of MPs according to the constitution is 323, including 232 representing constituences, the Attorney General (Ex-Officio), five members from the Zanzibar House of Representatives and ten presidential nominees. Mr Marmo said the government has now allotted 353 seats in the National Assembly, leaving room for seven vacancies only to fill the complex to its full capacity, as per its current design drawn to cater for the next 100 years. Mr Marmo yesterday ruled out the possibility of accommodating more MPs, unless the chamber was expanded. "I am not mandated to comment on how many new constituencies would be demarcated by NEC, but I am aware that the Bunge complex has been designed to accommodate a maximum of 360 fixed numbers of MPs for the next 100 years," he said. The Parliament building in Dodoma was inaugurated in 2006 and was constructed at the cost of over 30bn/-. The news on space limitation could be a blow to almost all regions which have been pushing for demarcation of more constituencies. Several local authorities including Dar es Salaam, Rukwa, Mbeya, Kagera and Kigoma have already floated proposals for new constituencies. However, NEC opposed the move as illegal and disowned the new constituencies at a press conference held in Dar es Salaam last month, on grounds that it is the only one with authority to demarcate new areas. The Director of Election, Mr Rajabu Kiravu, tabled a catalogue of procedures that must be followed by the authorities and other stakeholders to submit their proposal for new constituencies. Mr Kiravu recommended that consultations should be held between the councils and other stakeholders before referring their requests to NEC. He had earlier confirmed that his office has received many applications but declined to state the number of applications. He said the assessment committee will sit next month to evaluate the applications in accordance to 13 eligibility criteria, before announcing the new constituencies. Some of the standards for consideration include communication, geographical location, census data based on Tanzania Bureau of Statistics (TBS) data rate and demographical information. NEC requires that the new constituencies be inhabited with of 206,130 and 237,130 in rural and urban area respectively. According to the law, the new constituencies are demarcated after every ten years.