Hike in MP salaries stirs controversy

Hike in MP salaries stirs controversy

Hike in MP salaries stirs controversy

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An amendment that significantly hiked pensions of parliamentary members has caused controversy as main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) decried the extraordinary increase and announced that disciplinary sanctions will be applied to two CHP deputies who supported the amendment.

“It is not right to increase pensions of members of Parliament in a midnight operation,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said yesterday.

The amendments that increased pensions of deputies were passed without any debate around midnight Dec. 22 while the French Parliament’s adoption of a bill outlawing the denial of Armenian genocide allegations still dominated the country’s political agenda. An initial proposal fixing lawmaker pensions to 40 percent of the president’s salary was followed by a second one that raised the rate to 60 percent.

The changes, adopted as part of amendments to the Pension Fund Law, would increase lawmakers’ pensions from 4,980 Turkish Liras to about 8,000 liras and make those who have served at least two years in Parliament eligible for lifetime pensions.

All four parties of Parliament backed the amendments, but main opposition CHP was outraged by the MPs’ pension increase the following day and said Tanju Özcan and Ahmet Toptaş, the two CHP deputies who backed the proposals, will face disciplinary sanctions.

“CHP backs the amendment to fix pension inequality of the retired lawmakers but is totally against the extraordinary increase,” a CHP statement said. The CHP administration approves the proposal fixing lawmakers’ pensions to 40 percent of the president’s salary, but a proposal that raised the rate to 60 percent irked the party seniors, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

The significant increase of lawmaker pensions also prompted harsh objections from public unions, indicating that millions of pensioners expected amendments on their pensions.

“It’s astonishing how the deputies are skillful on the issues related to themselves while 2 million public servants and millions of pensioners are waiting for harmonization of their pensions,” Ahmet Gündoğdu, chairman of the government-backed Confederation of Public Servants Trade Unions (Memur-Sen), said.
Confederation of Public Trade Unions (Kamu-Sen) Chairman İsmail Hakkı Koncuk also denounced the increase, claiming the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was primarily responsible for the amendment.

President Abdullah Gül’s opinion will be decisive on this amendment as he has the right to approve or reject the bill. Gül vetoed a law that reduces penalties for match fixing on grounds the amendment was “against the public conscience.” Gül may veto the amendment that raised lawmakers’ pensions to 60 percent of his salary, daily Hürriyet wrote yesterday.

“The president considers public opinion while examining the laws. He did not turn a deaf ear to the public reactions. We saw his previous practices. He will make his decision considering public opinion,” Gül’s close circle said, according to daily Hürriyet.

On the other hand, 74 AKP deputies will not have the chance to get re-elected at the end of the current electoral period. According to the party’s statute, a deputy can be elected to a maximum of three terms. Among 74 deputies who are serving their third terms are prominent figures of the AKP including Bülent Arınç, Ali Babacan, Nurettin Canikli, Hüseyin Çelik and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.