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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Not Sure They Really Deserve It...

On his Coulisses de Bruxelles blog yesterday, French journalist Jean Quatremer offered an interesting insight into what Greek MPs earn. In light of Greece's current economic situation, the figures reported by Libération's Brussels correspondent are somewhat disturbing.

Apparently, the net monthly salary of a Greek MP can reach up to €8,500 (yup, you read that right). On top of this, the lucky members of the Greek Vouli are also entitled to:
  • An expenses allowance of €4,900;
  • An allowance of €1,200 for participation in parliamentary committees (but surely, sitting in committees is part of an MP's job?);
  • An accommodation allowance of €1,000 (for MPs travelling from outside Athens);
  • An office allowance of €1,800;
  • Free transport.

To put these figures into context, according to EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn's spokesman, the average minimum wage in Greece is €871 a month (still surprisingly higher than Spain, €748, and Portugal, €566, but that's another issue).

But salaries and allowances are not the only things likely to anger Greek citizens. Since last year, Quatremer notes, the annual income and properties of Greek MPs must be published on the Greek parliament's website.

For the record, here are some interesting details on the annual earnings of the two top Greek politicians (figures are from 2009 and are also mentioned by Greek newspaper Kathimerini, see here).

George Papandreou (former Prime Minister, leader of socialist PASOK party):

  • An annual gross salary of €122,114
  • Other "miscellaneous revenues" worth €6,926
  • Savings worth €61,379
  • A house in Athens
  • A stock portfolio of €228,000 owned by his wife

Antonis Samaras (leader of centre-right New Democracy party):

  • An annual gross salary of €107,150
  • Other "miscellaneous revenues" worth €110,695
  • Five plots of land and a flat (whose value is not specified)
  • Savings worth €285,467 deposited in a Belgian bank, plus a further €8,952 deposited in a Greek bank
  • 3,500 shares in a ferry company

If we were Greek voters we wouldn't take much confidence in the fact that leading politicians felt the need to deposit the majority of their savings outside the country.

There is clearly something wrong in a place where 'normal' citizens have either been lost their jobs or faced a series of pay cuts over the last two years, while the political class - which certainly bear a good deal of responsibility for the conditions Greece finds itself in - continues to ignore the option of substantially reducing their own salaries. It wouldn't do a whole lot to solve Greece's debt problems, but it would still surely be the right thing to do.


Peripatetic Scribe said...

To put things into perspective, the figure of €8,500 per month for a Greek MP is MORE than the average annual Croatian salary. However, they have a long way to go to catch up the average American Congressman with a base salary of US$14,500 per month! Nevertheless, they are equal in being drains on society.

Rollo said...

No, of course these Greek MPs do not deserve this sort of money.

greggf said...

This is a real entreé for that joke what's a Greek urn, sorry,

Anonymous said...

Not mentioned above, but our greek politicians not only receive this salary 12 months of the year, but also an additional 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th salary!
Six months ago they made a "gesture" and deprived themselves of the 17th and 18th salary...

Anonymous said...

Not only do they not deserve this money but they are cutting the unemployment and old age pensions from the people who need it to survive!!