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New proposal limits pay

SERVING as an MP and as a mayor or a regional governor at the same time could soon become less profitable. The ruling Smer party, whose people will be most affected by the changes, has come up with a proposal less than two months before local elections that would limit politicians who previously drew two salaries simultaneously.

SERVING as an MP and as a mayor or a regional governor at the same time could soon become less profitable. The ruling Smer party, whose people will be most affected by the changes, has come up with a proposal less than two months before local elections that would limit politicians who previously drew two salaries simultaneously.

Smer’s proposal, which was submitted for interdepartmental review on September 24, introduces a rule that an MP who simultaneously serves as a mayor will only be paid the parliamentary salary; for all the other public offices besides mayor, those serving as an MP would be able to receive the minimum salary at most. The same rules should apply for regional councillors, regional governors, or holders of another public or state office (for instance hospital director). Similar rules would apply to mayors and regional deputies.

The rules are projected to become effective after the 2016 parliamentary elections.

Presently, there are no limits on one person holding multiple public functions. In fact, there are MPs who hold not just two but even three posts: for instance MP Dušan Bublavý, who is also mayor of the village of Častkovce and a deputy in the Trenčín regional council.

“It is going to have a significant impact on the family budget, but we must cope with that,” Bublavý told the Sme daily.

Saving money?

The authors of the law believe the law will indeed have an impact on the state budget too.

“With this initiative we will clearly show that there is space for saving finances, and I believe that it will win greater support in parliament than just from the Smer MPs,” Fico said when introducing the law. Smer claims that municipalities whose mayors serve as MPs could save from €12,000 to €31,000 annually.

Given Smer’s dominance at the national, regional and local levels, most of these cases concern Smer MPs at present. There are three opposition MPs holding another public office as well, while out of Smer’s 83 MPs, 17 serve simultaneously as mayors, plus those who serve as regional or local councillors. For instance Richard Raši, who presented the draft amendment along with Prime Minister Robert Fico, is the mayor of Slovakia’s second-biggest city, Košice, and sits in the parliament for the ruling Smer party at the same time. Raši is running for re-election in the municipal elections scheduled for November 15.

Just a campaign, says opposition

The opposition was quick to criticise Smer’s initiative, calling it populist and part of the election campaign. This is largely due to the fact that Smer has repeatedly refused similar proposals tabled by the opposition. A draft law introducing the rule “one mandate is enough” authored by the Christian Democrats (KDH) was even among those bills that Smer swept from the agenda at the parliament’s September session, arguing that they were merely campaigning ahead of the municipal elections.

The KDH has long had the “one mandate is enough” principle on its agenda and made it one of the highlights of their election programme in 2010. It was subsequently part of the programme statement of the Iveta Radičová government, but no concrete steps have been taken. The KDH constitutional amendment that Smer rejected would have introduced the “one mandate is enough ” principle, but with a limited scope. Under that proposal, members of the national parliament and the European Parliament would not be able to serve as regional governors or mayors simultaneously.

The Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) came up with a proposal of one salary for multiple public offices in the summer.

Smer rejected also KDH’s earlier proposal from February 2013, which meant allowing MPs to be paid only one salary even if they hold multiple posts in public administration. At the time, the KDH was trying to introduce such a limit through an amendment on the salary conditions of some constitutional officials. Based on the proposal, MPs were to be banned from receiving anything other than their parliamentary salary, with some exceptions such as physicians and academics.

Fico first brought up the issue of accumulation of posts as one of the problems of public administration at Smer’s June 28 congress.

“Smer must come up with an initiative so that a constitutional official with several posts will only have one salary and will be paid only the minimum wage for holding other posts,” Fico said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

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