MPs increase own pensions in a midnight compromise
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Backed by all four parties in Parliament, the amendments that significantly hiked the deputies’ pensions were passed without any debate around midnight Dec 22. The changes will increase lawmakers’ pensions to about 8,000 Turkish Liras. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZJoining forces in a rare compromise, ruling party and opposition lawmakers rushed amendments through Parliament that significantly hiked their pensions, just before the legislature went into a one-week recess.
Backed by all four parties in Parliament, the amendments 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. The new law also scrapped a provision that stipulated cuts from salaries of lawmakers who received pensions for previous parliamentary terms, bringing the total sum they would get to 19,290 liras.
About 200 incumbent deputies with earlier parliamentary terms are estimated to benefit from the amendment.
Consulted before the submission of the proposal, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu gave their blessing on the condition that all four parties in Parliament backed the move.
Parliament went to yearend recess until Jan. 3, 2012 after the amendments were passed.
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek defended the hikes yesterday, arguing that lawmakers were burdened with heavy expenditures but received little fringe benefits from the state.
“Public employees get drivers, cars, gasoline, while Parliament members pay for everything from their pockets. One should be realistic,” Çiçek said. He called on journalists “not to shed blood with their pens” on the issue.
Meanwhile, the more-than-expected hike set with the second motion eventually irked Kılıçdaroğlu, party sources said. The party leadership was expected to discuss the issue.