German parliament′s plan to give automatic pay raises to MPs criticized | News | DW | 12.12.2017
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German parliament's plan to give automatic pay raises to MPs criticized

Germany's parliament is planning to go ahead with regulations that would enable lawmakers to receive automatic pay raises over the next four years. Critics point out the raises wouldn't be transparent to taxpayers.

Lawmakers in Germany's newest Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, are preparing to push forward with regulations that would enable them to receive pay raises at the cost of transparency to taxpayers, critics warned on Tuesday.

According a proposal obtained by the German daily Bild newspaper, parliamentarians are seeking to use rules that went into effect in late October this year that would enable them to receive pay raises without having to publicly debate the sum each time.

The proposal is reportedly on the agenda for Wednesday's parliamentary session, but the measure will not be debated.

Read more'Dear Germany... I want to pay taxes'

The move is supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) as well as the Social Democrats (SPD) and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP).

According to the joint CDU/CSU, SPD and FDP proposal, which was agreed upon by their corresponding parliamentary parties, MPs should receive automatic pay raises over the next four years in line with national wage trends.

On July 1 each year, parliamentarians' salaries will receive an automatic bump in line with the so-called nominal wages index, which is tied to inflation.

Outcry from Taxpayers' group

The German Taxpayers' Association (BdSt) harshly criticized the move on Tuesday, saying that the joint-party proposal was being quickly assembled in order to avoid a public debate.

"Once again, the parliamentarians want to secretly give themselves higher salaries, without citizens knowing about it," said BdSt President Reiner Holznagel in a statement.

"Every pay increase must be publicly and transparently debated in the Bundestag. There cannot be salary automatization," he criticized.

Holznagel said that when it comes to justifying pay increases for MPs, most shy away from discussing the reasons.

"The parliamentarians need to be aware that such behavior fuels citizens' disenchantment with politics," he added.

How much do German MPs earn?

This July, parliamentarians in the Bundestag received a raise meaning they receive €9,541 ($11,187) per month. 

On top of that, MPs are also eligible for a range of bonuses, one of which amounts to almost half their monthly salary and is intended to cover the costs of running their offices in their hometown constituency as well as financing their second apartment in the capital Berlin.

The automatic pay raises were first put into action in July 2016. Prior to the switch to automatization, pay raises for MPs required a change to Germany's parliamentarian law, meaning that the raises had to undergo the normal law changing procedures — including debates that were publicly available.

While some could argue that the automatization saves time, others say citizens miss an opportunity to receive justification from their representatives.

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