Leader of the Greens Giorgos Perdikis is a populist with a talent for producing soundbites that receive considerable publicity, despite their superficiality and point-scoring agenda. Occasionally, his populism highlights issues of importance that very few other politicians dare to touch, as is the case with remuneration for members of the House of Representatives, for which there are alleged plans for an increase.
Last Friday, Perdikis brought up the issue during the House plenum as a response to an earlier remark from House president Demetris Syllouris, about the need for an increase in deputies’ pay. According to a statement issued on Monday by Perdikis, several Disy deputies “with shouts instead of arguments, tried to prevent the position of the Greens from being heard.”
Nothing unites the overwhelming majority of deputies more than the increase in their pay. All ideological, Cyprus problem and political differences are put aside, as they unite for the noblest cause of all – increasing their income. Of course, in the past the law prevented serving deputies from voting for pay increases for themselves, and any increases were for the members of a new parliament.
Perhaps the law has changed, or it may just be that Syllouris felt public opinion had to be cultivated before the decision was taken for the next parliament, which is four years away. The latter seems the more likely explanation, given that when he was responding to Perdikis on Friday, Syllouris claimed that pay had to reflect deputies’ productivity. How do we know that deputies’ productivity increased? Has Syllouris found a method of objectively measuring a deputy’s productivity and had he measured it for the previous parliament to be able to say there has been an increase now?
We doubt there will be any political parties challenging this nonsense about a productivity increase, which is why Perdikis should be commended for taking up the issue. He hit the nail on the head when he said: “Instead of discussing the increase in the remuneration of deputies, at a time when many citizens have difficulty making ends meet, we should discuss – until it becomes clear to everyone – that being a member of parliament is not a profession but a service.”
He is absolutely right – it is a part-time job for which deputies already receive a full-time job salary in the region of €8,000 a month. More scandalous is the fact that they are the only people in Cyprus who do not pay any tax on half their income, because it is supposedly an expense allowance. Nobody else in the country is entitled to collect three to four thousand a month as an expense allowance. The auditor-general should investigate this grossly unequal treatment by the law.
We hope Perdikis carries on making a fuss about this issue because people need to be constantly reminded about the greed and selfishness of our deputies.