MPs’ salaries will remain frozen «as long as necessary» following a 5 percent reduction last year, while the additional wages paid to deputies who sit on parliamentary committees will be cut by 15 percent, Parliament Speaker Philippos Petsalnikos told reporters yesterday. Another possible measure to be taken by Petsalnikos in a bid to reduce parliamentary expenses as part of an overall attempt to cut state spending would involve the imposition of additional tax on the 15th and 16th salaries paid annually to administrative staff employed in Parliament. Original plans had foreseen the trimming of the monthly wages of administrative staff but were scrapped when the employees threatened strike action to protest the proposed changes. Although the cuts to MPs’ incomes were criticized by some economic commentators as inadequate, Petsalnikos stressed that Parliament was not excessively costly to Greek taxpayers. The cost of Parliament’s operation accounts for 0.379 percent of Greece’s total state budget, while the cost of MPs’ wages is the equivalent of 0.112 percent of the budget, he said. Petsalnikos added that he was in regular contact with Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and that he «fully supported» the minister and his efforts to get the beleaguered Greek economy back on track by slashing wasteful public spending and making savings wherever possible. More than 27 million euros has been set aside for MPs’ wages in 2010 and another 5.5 million euros for their participation in special committees. According to Petsalnikos, these expenses constitute a saving of nearly 4 million euros compared to last year.