By Elias Hazou
TAXPAYERS are picking up the tab for DIKO deputy Marios Garoyian’s two secretarial allowances, one in his capacity as an MP and the second as a former House Speaker, it has emerged.
According to data released by the Treasury, Garoyian receives €1,025 a month in secretarial allowance as an MP, a perk to which all deputies are entitled. The allowance is incorporated into the MP’s salary, which comes to €6611 gross a month.
On top of that, Garoyian is paid €3019 in secretarial allowance as former House Speaker – a position he vacated in June 2011.
The issue came to the fore after opposition AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou queried the government as to which state officials receive two same-kind allowances.
Asked by daily Politis whether it is not provocative for an official to get two allowances for the same purpose, Garoyian said that he only receives what he is entitled to under the law.
He went on to say that the secretarial allowance is part and parcel of the salary of all MPs – irrespective of whether they have hired an assistant or not – and wondered how many deputies actually have a secretary.
Moreover, in a bid to justify his own perks, Garoyian noted that he employs two secretaries, wanting to say that he does not pocket the additional allowance but that the amount is paid to his extra assistant for work rendered.
The former DIKO leader also said that he would not oppose any legislation slashing or abolishing allowances, provided this concerned all state officials.
Meanwhile, the data released by the Treasury cleared up another matter: Garoyian, who as former House Speaker gets to be chauffeured everywhere in a limo, does not also receive a mileage allowance to which MPs are entitled.
Garoyian travels around in a 55 horsepower Mercedes E500. Defending this perk, the former DIKO party leader said that a year ago he requested from the finance minister that his limo be replaced with a lower-horsepower car.
He has yet to receive a response from the ministry, he added.
An amending law seeking to rationalise the use of limos by public officials has been passed, but its entry into force was suspended until October.
The latest list of eligible officials includes the President of the Republic, the House Speaker, the President of the Supreme Court, the attorney-general and deputy attorney-general, the auditor -general, former presidents, ministers, the government spokesman, the undersecretary to the president, the First Lady, the chief of police, the commander of the National Guard, as well as the head of the intelligence service.
For other officials currently using state-provided limos, the cabinet decided that these officials can keep their vehicles on a personal basis until their term is over, but no later than January 2016.
The cabinet said the use of a state car is allowed only for state business and that transportation to and from the official’s residence is not considered ‘state business’. How this can be verified is another matter.