Salary and privileges of members of parliament in Greece

A lot has been said recently in the Greek media about the salary, allowances and benefits of members of the Greek parliament. MPs insist that their pay is not all that high, that they incur considerable expenses for the cost of running their office, and that cutting back on their benefits will cause “parliamentarian poverty.” Yet no one really knows how much Greek MPs are earning. The deputy speaker of parliament, Gr. Niotis, rejected on 23 September a proposal by far-right leader G. Karatzaferis to send a letter to the media with details of MPs’ pay, allowances and benefits. So I decided to research the relevant legislation to figure it out for myself. Here is the result of my research, with links to the relevant law/decree/decision for each item.

A. Basic salary

  1. Under article 63 of the Greek Constitution, MPs are entitled to a salary and allowances covered by the state to exercise their mandate. The amount is determined by a decision of the plenary session of parliament.
  2. The monthly salary of MPs is equal to the pay of the best-paid civil servant (ie the president of the Supreme Court), meaning the total of his basic salary and allowances (law 3732/1957). This amounts to €8,594.40 before tax per month (Guidelines for the implementation of income policy for the fiscal year 2010, reference number 2/14924/0022 – 01/04/2010, article 2 §4, not published in the Government Gazette but available from the Ministry of Finance/General Accounting Office).
  3. Individual MPs may be eligible for further allowances (eg dependents, disability etc) which I do not take in consideration here.
  4. Up to 20% of the basic salary is transferred to the MP’s political party (law 3016/2002 article 36 §1).
  5. 1% is withheld for health insurance (Vote Ζ/1975 article 1 §1b).
  6. 6.67% is withheld for pension contributions (law 2084/1992 article 22 §1).
  7. 25% of the basic salary after the above deductions are taken into account is exempt from tax on the grounds that it is used for “costs incurred by MPs for practicing their office” (law 3016/2002 art 36 § 2)
  8. Since April 2009, 5% of salary is withheld & transferred to National Social Cohesion Fund under decision 3603/2728/2009 which has been extended on a yearly basis. The Fund was abolished by law 3895/2010 article 1 §1c and contributions transferred to the Ministry of Finance.
  9. Income tax is calculated under law 3986/2011 article 27 §1.
  10. Furthermore, MPs pay an emergency tax of 5% of net income (excluding bonuses) under the same law 3986/2011 article 29 §3e.

A calculation based on the above amounts results in a minimum monthly take-home pay of €4,662.25 for MPs’ basic salary alone.

B. Committee participation allowance

  1. MPs further receive an allowance for participating in parliamentary committee meetings (Parliament regulations as they currently stand, article 37 § 2).
  2. The allowance currently stands at €150 per MP per meeting. Decision 6632/4382/2011 reduced it from €200 to €150 starting 15 July 2011.
  3. There were 34 active committees and subcommittees in parliament from 04/10/2010 to 30/09/2011 that held a total of 740 meetings with a total of 761 members. The total cost to the taxpayer was €4,725,600. Each MP earned on average €15,752 from participating in committees over a one-year period.

A calculation based on the amounts stated for basic salary and committee allowances results in an average take-home pay of €5,312.48

C. Christmas, Easter, holiday bonuses

  1. The 1 month salary Christmas bonus and the two half-month salary bonuses for Easter and holidays were cancelled on 14/05/2010 by decision 6708/4614/2010. MPs are now eligible for bonuses of €500 for Christmas, €250 for Easter & €250 for holiday under law 3845/2010 article 3 §6. MPs never received 16 months salary per year (16 months only ever applied to employees of the parliament).

calculation based on the amounts stated above for basic salary, committee allowances and bonuses results in an average take-home pay of €5,364.15

D. Parliamentary pension

  1. MPs are eligible for parliamentary pension after serving for 8 years in parliament (4 if they have a disability or chronic illness) under law 3670/2008 article 3 § 1.

E. Office costs

  1. Decision 5727/4313/2002 and Ministerial decree 2234/2002 deal with the practicalities of office space for MPs. Under article 2, office space for MPs is provided by the parliament. Under article 3, offices are fully furnished and equipped, and consumables (stationeries, printer ink etc.) are provided by the parliament. Under article 4, the cost of purchasing equipment is covered by the parliament budget. Under article 5, offices are provided equipped and renovated and should be returned in same condition except for normal wear & tear.
  2. Decision 13986/2009 defines necessary equipment for an MP’s office as: 1 desktop computer, 1 laptop, 1 printer, 1 multifunction printer/scanner/photocopier, relevant software, 1 telephone exchange, 1 satellite receiver. MPs procure their equipment from the provider of their choice. The individual budget allocation is €5,500 for newly elected MPs, €2,500 for MPs re-elected for the first time and €3,500 for MPs re-elected for the second time or more. The total cost to the taxpayer is well above €1M. Furthermore, since the equipment is the private property of the MP, the same amounts are disbursed after each general election.
  3. Each MP gets 4 secretaries and 1 advisor or 3 secretaries and 2 advisors (law 3649/2008 article 23). That’s not to mention the number of people working in Ministers’ & Deputy Ministers’ offices.
  4. MPs receive an allowance to meet the expenses of their office, defined as a percentage of their monthly pay. Decision 6709/4615/2010 establishes it at 16.2% for greater Athens MPs and 20.24% for MPs from the rest of the country. This means an extra €778 per month for greater Athens MPs and €972 per month for other MPs. 
      1. The 25% tax exemption on basic salary (cf. point A7) is also justified on the grounds that the amount is intended to cover office costs.
      2. There is no requirement in the law whatsoever to justify that this amount is spent on parliamentary business.
  5. The prime minister, deputy prime ministers, ministers, deputy ministers, speaker of parliament and leader of the main opposition party further receive 20-40% of salary for representation costs (law 1249/1982 article 55). The amount was cut by 12% (law 3833/2010 article 1 §1) and further cut by 8% (law 3845/2010 article 1 §1). After the latest cuts, this means between €778 and €1,556 per person per month on top of their regular pay.

F. Running costs

Under article 63 §2 of the Constitution, MPs enjoy transportation, postal service and telephone communications free of charge within limits determined by the plenary session of parliament. In practical terms this means that the taxpayers pays for:

  1. Up to 1,000 letters sent by surface mail every month (decision 196/1990) equally distributed between the three lighter categories of simple first priority domestic mail service (decision 3287/2001). This means a yearly budget of €2,868,000.
  2. The use of 4 telephone land lines, two of which are provided by the state (decision 2449/1991, article 1 §2) and 2 which are installed at MP’s cost (ministerial decree 2234/2002 article 4 §2). At least 1 land line should be in greater Athens, the others in any location of the MP’s choice (decision 2712/1991). Decision 15733/11148/2009 sets the yearly budget per MP for 2009 at €11,000 (reducing it from €12,000), meaning a total cost to the taxpayer of €3,300,300 per year.
  3. The free phone benefit was extended to mobile phones by decision 1120/900/2005Decision 1818/1466/2005 specifies that this is for one mobile phone line and does not cover the cost of the handset. Decision 4377/2008 defines the maximum monthly cost covered by parliament for each MP at €200, meaning a total cost to the taxpayer of € 720,000 per year.
  4. Two comments here:
      1. There is no requirement whatsoever for MPs to justify that their mail or phone calls are related to parliamentary business.
      2. In principle any costs incurred in excess of the above stated amounts are at the expense of the MP. However, the parliament can decide to cover those costs retroactively as well, e.g. decision 2347/2007.

G. Travel, transportation and residence 

  1. MPs enjoy free transportation on national train network, public inter-city buses and passenger boats under the Greek flag regardless of destination and of official/private character of the trip (Vote Ζ/1975 article 2 §2) and 52 return air tickets to their constituency for MPs from the provinces (Vote Ζ/1975 article 2 §3)
  2. The free transportation above is in first class, as are all trips for MPs themselves and their spouses when on official travel in Greece and abroad (law 2685/1999 article 4 § 1). Under the same law article 1 §2a, the taxpayer covers the cost of tickets, monthly travel pass or cost of using private transportation (owned or rented), overnight stay costs and per diem for MPs on official travel within Greece or abroad.
  3. No maximum amount for overnight costs is specified for the prime minister, his deputies, government ministers, deputy ministers and MPs for hotels within Greece in law 2685/1999 article 8 § 3a. All MPs get to stay in 5-star hotels when abroad under article 22 §2a.
  4. The MPs’ per diem when on official travel abroad is €150 (Decision 6632/4382/2011).
  5. Under decision 9537/7713/2004, MPs from the provinces can choose to stay in hotels while in Athens at the expense of the taxpayer or to receive an allowance of €1,000 per month to rent an apartment either in Athens or in their constituency (provided that they or their spouse do not own a residence in greater Athens or within less than 25km of the rented residence or hotel in their constituency per decision 9671/7802/2004).
  6. Under decision 2045/941/2003, MPs may rent a vehicle for 36 months at the expense of the taxpayer. The engine size should be 1600-2000cc. The MP is responsible for service, repairs, changing tires, insurance, fuel etc (decision 4286/2348/2003 §c). The maximum monthly rent is €1,500 per MP (decision 22-//2008 §c). Under decision 5475/2008, there is no upper limit on engine size if the vehicle is hybrid (§1b) but renting two-door vehicles and generally jeep, SUV & cabriolet-type vehicles is forbidden (§2a). Decision 142//2010 §a authorises MPs to replace rented vehicles by vehicles with engines in the 1000-1600cc range. The recent announcement by the speaker of the parliament that smaller vehicles would become compulsory has not even been voted upon yet. At €1500/MP/month, the total cost to the taxpayer is €5,400,000 per year.
  7. MPs also receive a further transportation allowance ranging from €364 to €810 per month, depending on their constituency. Even those from Athens receive the minimum amount. The latest update of amounts was stated in decision 6700/2010.  The total cost to the taxpayer is in excess of €2,000,000 per year.

H. Other goodies

  1. Ministerial decree 4569/2516/2003 establishes a gym inside parliament. Article 6 says costs are covered by users’ contribution and the parliament budget. It is open from 7am to 9pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays. It employs 29 staff (per ministerial decree 4653/2563/2003 article 1).
  2. Decision 4437/2000 establishes a day-care centre for MPs’ children whose cost is entirely covered by parliament (article 3) and which employs 20 people (article 4 §2)
  3. MPs are not listed among those eligible for free visits to archaelogical sites and museums in ministerial decree 28856/1996 but several sites, such as the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum, do it anyway.
Note: Laws in Greece keep changing even when we are not in the middle of the worst crisis since World War II. The references to laws above represent the legislation in force as of 03 October 2011 to the best of my knowledge. There may be more legislation I missed (meaning more goodies and allowances for MPs). Also, the above legislation might be changing as I write, since the parliament keeps voting all manners of new laws and amendments all the time.

36 thoughts on “Salary and privileges of members of parliament in Greece

  1. Pingback: Salary and privileges of members of parliament in Greece » Greece on WEB

  2. Very interesting, there are 650 MPs in the UK representing 70million people (1,075,000 each ave.) There are 300 Greek MPs in Greece representing 11million (366,000 each ave.) Yet the Greek MPs are paid more?

  3. You might also include such benefits as immunity from criminal prosecution for themselves (legal), and perhaps for their family and friends (illegal), as these will sometimes have a monetary value.

    • I’m planning a blog post on the most galling examples of scandals involving MPs that were swept under the carpet thanks to immunity laws, but that’s going to take quite a bit of research. Stay tuned.

  4. Jeez – and I thought MP’s here in the UK were well looked after. I think their Greek counterparts need – seriously need – to take a long, hard look at their take home salaries and perks and start to examine their own consciences as a matter of urgency.

    As for the scale of the Greek allowances mentioned, the first thought is unbelievable. Subsequent thoughts are unsuitable to put down in writing!!!

  5. Great stuff and what a shame that it took the publishing of this information for Greek MPs to start finally discussing the need for cuts in their earnings! It’s shameful that essential members of the community; teachers, postmen, police etc are being reduced to basic levels of living whilst benefits and earnings of some civil servants have not been touched. This is not what the people of Greece want, but what we are being forced to accept. Basically the civil service is so entrenched in dishonesty that it is almost impossible to remove anyone other than the honest, as each one knows too much incriminating evidence about another. A clean sweep is what’s needed as the dishonest will never leave freely and the honest will be pushed out anyway, so it might as well all go as far as the rest of the population is concerned, with the hope of a new beginning. I would love a document like this on all the civil servant salaries and benefits to be published all together in black & white, including all the “ταμείο”, transportation perks, summer camps etc, so that the civil servants might bow down in shame and realise how lucky they have been to get so much for so long. Not only that, but I would like them also to stop “sharing” their perks illegally with their friends and acquaintances, as this is an even bigger misuse of public money!!Only those appropriate should be employed from now on and only through clearly defined routes.
    Perhaps politicians should be replaced by managers, who have defined goals and if these are not met within a certain time ratio then they should be replaced by someone more appropriate. A national vote could be made on policies only and people who want to be employed to be the G Ms of these policies put forward C Vs which then people vote on and so they will become Heads of divisions and responsible for the employment of those who can truly assist them in achieving the National policies. If they do not achieve a number of the goals within a reasonably pre-defined timescale, then the country would be free to call for new candidates and to re-vote with replacements then made to rectify the situation. As huge conglomerate corporations can be run in this way, why could a country not be done so? Could it be more heartless and dishonest than what we have now?
    Anyway, thank you for the article, please keep us informed even though it’s sickening to read of the injustices that have been forced on us for so long.

  6. Splendid article! Small wonder it’s attracting attention all over the world.

    I summarized it on my own website (http://syntagmascopio.skopos.be/Schandalen/hoeveel-verdient-een-grieks-parlementslid.html). The site is in Dutch so a full translation is not needed.

    Instead, I wondered aloud what all that money buys you (and us, it’s basically the same here in Belgium). All that these MP’s do – except talking to themselves – is push the button that they’re told to push, for fear of being kicked out. Skinner’s rats could do that already, and no doubt they were much cheaper to maintain .

    Keep those articles coming!

    • Thanks for your comment and for the translation.
      To give an indication as to what that sort of money buys you, the average net income in Greece in 2010 was €935 per month – almost 6 times less than the take-home pay of MPs.
      MPs in Greece are the second-best paid in Europe (after Italy). You also need to take in consideration the fact that there is not requirement whatsoever in the law for MPs to justify how they spend their allowances. For all we know they could be sending Christmas cards to their nephews or calling their daughter in the UK at the expense of the taxpayer. In all the other European countries I checked, MPs need to justify that all the expenditures they charge to the state are about parliamentary business. For example, the UK House of Commons has an extensive list of rules in the Green Book, which is posted on the House website – a highly interesting read when you are Greek.

  7. I suggest to implement a law according to which from now and on, all politicians and whoever will want to be involved in politics will do it without salary, just voluntarily. If the reason to receive money for public services has been established in the name of “clarity”, in order to avoid corruption, well… I think we can live with it!

    • If you click on the links above, it will take you to the download page for each one of the laws on the National Printing Office website (www.et.gr). You just need to accept the download.
      Be careful about one thing though: laws in Greece keep being amended (e.g. law XXXX/2011 article XX replaces law YYYY/2010 article YY). This will not appear in the above links, since each one takes you to a specific issue of the Gazette. There is an online electronic database of Greek law where all the amendments are constantly updated, but you must find a Greek jurist who will give you access to it. I had the help of a lawyer in doing this, this is why I can be (almost) sure that I am listing the most recent legislation at the time of writing.

  8. Pingback: Greece’s perilous position should not be casually glossed over | Nikos Dimitriou | WorldNews2GO

  9. Let’s not forget these are the people who protect the businessmen who in turn cheat each and everyone of us.

  10. “I suggest to implement a law according to which from now and on, all politicians and whoever will want to be involved in politics will do it without salary, just voluntarily. If the reason to receive money for public services has been established in the name of “clarity”, in order to avoid corruption, well… I think we can live with it!”

    The Romans tried this. Corruption is when you take that which is not yours. A bad politician will work for free, if it is profitable.

    • Unpaid politicians means public servants becomes the privilege of the wealthy few. The voice of the common man/woman would never be heard in parliament.
      Whilst I agree MP’s should be paid they owe it both to themselves and the country to take a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

  11. Please publish this information on Wikipedia , making one page for each country in the EU. Its not only the greek members of paraments who have this kind of conditions. Members of the Swedish parlament e.g. could leave with full pensions after serving 12 years and at an age of 50, this at the same time as the swedish PM proposed that people need to work until the reach 75!

  12. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast simply because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this issue here on your web site.

  13. Normally I do not read post on blogs, however I wish to
    say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it!
    Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, quite
    great post.

  14. Its such as you read my mind! You appear to understand a lot about this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something. I think that you could do with some p.c. to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

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