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Cyprus

House defends lawmakers’ salaries

By Angelos Anastasiou

Comparing the earnings of deputies to those of civil servants is in no way appropriate as the parliamentary office is differentiated from employment relationships with regard to its nature and aims, the House of Representatives said on Friday, in response to a story run earlier this week by daily Politis.

Citing a letter sent in April by Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides to the finance minister, the paper had presented a breakdown of the monthly remuneration received by all Cypriot deputies, and argued that they were excessive and incommensurate with ongoing economic circumstances in the country, which have forced pay cuts on the public sector.

In an attempt to contradict the arguments made by both the Auditor-general and Politis, the House issued a statement in response on Friday, in which it claimed that parliamentary remuneration could not be compared to the earnings of salaried employees.

“Besides, in many cases parliamentary remuneration is lower than the earnings of civil servants and other state officials,” the letter said.

Countering Michaelides’ finding that, although considered self-employed, deputies do not contribute to the Social Insurance Fund, the House statement said that “the contribution of deputies to the Social Insurance Fund is not a matter of the House but the object of decisions made by state services”.

It added that the emoluments of deputies since 2011 have sustained tiered cuts, just like those of civil servants.

“Total cuts add up to €1,794, not including income tax payable, which is calculated accordingly,” the House argued.

Additionally, deputies’ monthly earnings include deductions of 6.8 per cent for purposes of professional pensions.

The statement also argued that the amounts stated in Politis’ story were gross, before deductions and contributions.

“Mean net earnings per deputy are approximately €3,800,” the House said.

With regard to Politis’ claim that a monthly €1,025 is paid to all deputies for securing secretarial services, the House said the benefit is “aimed at covering deputies’ needs arising from their obligation to maintain personal contact with the public for the purposes of fulfilling their institutional role”.

Another criticism made by Michaelides and presented by Politis was that monthly travel expenses to the tune of €683 are paid to deputies indiscriminately, regardless of where they live.

“The travel expenses payable to all deputies regardless of district [of residence] cover their continuous transportation across the Republic for the purposes of carrying out the broader parliamentary work, as well as discussing, identifying, and promoting local issues, and in any case do not necessarily or exclusively relate to their needs of transportation to the House of Representatives,” the statement said.

Lastly, responding to an observation by Michaelides that many deputies also have private jobs in parallel with their parliamentary capacity, the deputies claimed that executing parliamentary duties in most cases is done at the expense of professional activity, and therefore “all aspects of this issue must be faced from a broader perspective, in light of the variables comprising it”.

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