NEWS

Public outcry over Parliament bonuses

The news that parliamentary employees will receive annual performance-linked bonuses, even as staff elsewhere in the civil service as well as the private sector have seen their wages slashed, caused an uproar Friday, with countless citizens telephoning Parliament to express their outrage.

But sources in Parliament told Kathimerini that the bonuses, which were outlined in a budget approved earlier this month, would be smaller than the 15th and 16th annual salaries that parliamentary employees traditionally receive.

According to the same sources, the budget for the bonuses for 2012 has been earmarked at 5.1 million euros, about a third of this year?s 16.9-million-euro budget. In previous years, the budgets were significantly larger — 20 million euros in 2010, 18 million in 2009, 17.4 million in 2008 and 19.5 million in 2007.

But although the budget for 2012 is a fraction of that in previous years, there will reportedly be no ceiling set on bonuses. This means that next year?s pot of 5.1 million euros will ostensibly be distributed among Parliament?s employees according to their performance, but there is theoretically no limit to what staff can receive. It remains unclear how the performance of employees will be assessed.

Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos said earlier this week that a total of 1,290 people are employed in the House — 80 fewer than in 2009.

The perks enjoyed by Parliament?s 300 deputies have also been the cause of public outrage. Among other things, MPs enjoy courtesy cars, fees for attending committee meetings and second pensions for those who practice professions alongside their political careers.