Knesset Votes Salary Raise to Ministers

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Knesset Finance Committee has acted to correct a disparity in official incomes, bringing ministerial salaries in line with those of Knesset members, whose salaries have come to exceed those of ministers.

The anomaly was due to the fact that lawmakers’ salaries were linked to the average wage, while ministers’ were pegged to the consumer price index. At the time that linkage was created, the cpi was rising faster than wages; but after the situation reversed, MKs began earning more than ministers.

Under the new regime, ministers will receive a pay raise of 5,000 monthly, and 5,500 to the prime minister, at a cost to the taxpayers of about 2 million shekels.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s salary will now be 49,600 a month. Ministers’ salaries will go up from 39,200 to 44,200, according to Ynet on Monday.

Opposition MKs were opposed, saying that lawmakers should not set their own salaries. &

“It keeps happening that MKs make decisions on their own affairs in a complete conflict of interest. It’s unreasonable,” said MK Mickey Rosenthal (Zionist Camp). “We need to appoint an external committee.”&

MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) said “it looks very bad when ministers are taken care of before the disabled and the elderly.”&

Meretz MK Ilan Gilon demanded that no decision is made on the ministers’ salaries until a solution is found for the disabled. “Appearances are very important. We shouldn’t move an inch until the agreement reached two years ago to link disability pensions to the consumer price index is implemented,” he said.&

Coalition MKs, meanwhile, supported the move and accused the opposition of being against the change only because of political motivations.

“There’s a competition here who is more of a demagogue,” said MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home). “The ministers’ salary should be doubled. How can it be that Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked gets the least amount of money among the top members of the Justice Ministry?”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said they are “hypocrites and liars. You yell about not raising ministers’ salaries but enjoy a raise to your own.”

He also opined that “ministers who have massive budgets should receive a salary that will prevent them from being tempted to seek additional income.” &

The discussion about salaries tends to obscure an important fact: the various other perks a minister is entitled to, including: 26 days of paid vacation a year, an annual grant to buy clothing, an apartment (a minister whose ministry is located in Tel Aviv and lives more than 30 miles away can rent an apartment and receive full reimbursements), an armored vehicle with a personal driver, offices both in Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv, advisors, assistants, a generous pension plan, newspaper subscriptions, cellphones and fax machines, and more. & &