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Cyprus

MPs to benefit from state pay shake-up

Proposals would see MPs voting for pay increases for the next parliament

By Angelos Anastasiou

The government wants to streamline the salaries of MPs and appointed government officials to reflect their status and to correct distortions, daily Simerini reported on Wednesday.

This would mean a pay bump for MPs voted in next year while other officials could see a pay cut.

According to the report, the present pay system has created distortions whereby officials appointed by the president are paid more than he is. In some cases officials with ostensibly the same title – such as commissioners – are not paid the same.

The government wants to record the salaries and benefits of all officials in order to rank them according to hierarchical criteria and ensure a more reasonable centralised pay scale.

Such correction would however see deputies’ salaries increase, a measure the government wants passed during the present parliament. The law bans deputies from voting to increase their own pay but a vote now would mean changes would only affect the next parliament.

Parliamentary elections take place next May but the move will benefit many current MPs who are likely to be re-elected. MPs currently earn around €4,000 a month plus allowances.

Citing an unnamed high-ranking finance ministry official, the paper said the government was trying to address disparities and lack of homogeneity in the remuneration of government officials.

“In the context of the planned overhaul in the public sector, disparities and heterogeneity in the remuneration of government officials – elected or appointed – must be remedied, both in terms of comparison among them and when compared with high-ranking civil service personnel,” he was quoted as saying.

“The status quo does not reflect the true picture and the position elected government officials should hold in the hierarchy of the state.”

By way of illustration, the paper presented the monthly salaries of the president (€6,007), in comparison with those of other officials, including Supreme Court judges (€6,827) and the attorney-general (€6,526).

Further, it presented disparate salaries of seemingly commensurate titles, like the commissioner of internal audit service, who nets an annual €53,060, and the commissioner of state aid control, who receives €61,083 a year.

At this point, the work, which has been undertaken by the public administration and personnel department, is still in its early stages, with only a comprehensive list of titles and remunerations having been drafted thus far, but no numbers floated yet.

The issue is made even more complicated by the myriad rules affecting the pay of civil servants and government officials. Some are determined by legally-prescribed pay scales, as with high-ranking civil servants, others by legislation governing the appointment of independent officials, and yet others by contractual agreements.

“Also, some officials’ terms are coming to an end soon, some others have just assumed their duties,” the unnamed finance ministry source told Simerini.

“This is not going to be an easy task, and it’s certainly not going to be a one-off decision. It’s going to take several decisions and legislative amendments.”

According to the report, the finance ministry has once again offered assurances that the changes will have “negligible fiscal impact” – a line used recently in unveiling a government proposal to restore frozen raises that came with promotions to civil servants a year ahead of schedule in 2016, months before the parliamentary elections.

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