MKs decry pay raise - but take it anyway

Each MK to receive monthly salary increase of at least NIS 2,800; monthly car maintenance benefits to go up by NIS 2,800.

knesset plenum 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
knesset plenum 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Knesset members were hesitant to discuss their New Year's salary boost Monday, with many still criticizing the 2008 budget's lack of funds for those in society's weakest sectors. Beginning January 1, each MK will be given a monthly salary increase of at least NIS 2,800. Their monthly car maintenance benefits will also increase by NIS 2,800. An extra sum of NIS 800,000 per month was allocated to provide MKs who live away from the capital with living accommodations in Jerusalem. All of the changes were announced by the Finance Ministry, and credited to the increase in the index of the average national salary, which is expected to rise 2.5 percent on January 1. MKs, however, were modest when it came to discussing their new wages. "It is a shame, simply a shame, that the already bloated salaries of MKs are being raised while there are still so many people living below the poverty line in Israel," said MK Zehava Gal-On. She added that the MKs should feel guilty for receiving the pay raise, just days after passing the 2008 budget which "left many of the weakest sectors of society in the cold." MKs had no control over the wage hike, however, since the budget is managed by the Finance Ministry and the Knesset Finance Division. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On himself said Sunday he was not comfortable with the pay hike. Other MKs, however, said that they had no problem with their new salaries. "I am taking it as a sign that the country is doing well," said one Kadima MK. "I don't see anything wrong about it. Any attempt to levy guilt is a political spin."