MKs deny themselves raises for 2009

Knesset House Committee decides to freeze 3 percent raise that was supposed to go into effect next month.

The Knesset House Committee decided on Tuesday to freeze a 3-percent raise in MKs' salaries that was supposed to go into effect next month following an increase in the average market wage. The panels' decision applies to 2009 alone, and the matter will be examined again for 2010. "This decision is symbolic and a message that public representatives [have moved] to freeze their salaries during a time of crisis so as not to damage their public image," said committee chairman David Tal (Kadima), who proposed the move. Because MKs' salaries are linked to the average salary in the market, Knesset members had been slated to receive a raise of NIS 900 to their gross monthly wage of approximately NIS 32,000. "The raise the MKs were supposed to get is not high, and during normal times it was appropriate because MKs, in comparison to similar job-holders in the private sector, don't earn a particularly high salary," Tal said. Ilan Levin, the Finance Ministry official in charge of wages, announced at the meeting that the Treasury was considering initiating legislation to freeze raises among the rest of the senior workers in the public sector. "This move has given us an impetus to operate in this direction," he said. Levin added that there were no plans at the moment to freeze wages for workers from weaker socioeconomic sectors. The Knesset Finance Committee is scheduled to decide on Wednesday whether to curb raises similarly for ministers, deputy ministers, judges and the president.