Parties employee 101 parliamentary assistants costing taxpayers €3.7m, according to the auditor-general who censured them because they raised the cost, ignoring the bad financial state the country was in.
Parliamentary assistants had been introduced a few years ago ostensibly to help the 56 MPs in their work.
It is a system that was hugely exploited by MPs who oftentimes hired family members, including their own children, for the job. In many instances the assistants never show up in parliament.
By the end of 2015, there were 69 parliamentary assistants, according to the auditor. Parties however, decided in September of that year to hire 18 additional assistants and in January of this year, two months before the House dissolved ahead of the elections, they asked for 18 more.
The request was granted by the cabinet in June, resulting in 101 assistants being employed at a cost of €3.7m.
“We think that the 37 per cent budget increase, and the 46 per cent rise in the number of parliamentary assistants in less than a year does not conform with the poor financial conditions our country is going through,” the auditor said in his report.
The number of assistants depends on a party’s seats in parliament.
Ruling Disy with 18 seats currently has 28 – it had 22 with 20 seats – while Akel has 26 with 16 seats. Akel had 21 previously with 19 seats.
Diko has 16 (9 seats), Edek, 6 (3), Solidarity, 6 (3), Green party, 5 (2), Alliance, 6 (3), Elam 5 (2), and one for each one of the three representatives of the religious groups.
An unknown number of assistants work for the parties but cannot be found in parliament.