Polish PM says 60 pct raise for politicians 'nothing extraordinary'

Morawiecki said that "parliamentarians and local government officials in the past several years, and parliamentarians in fact in the past 23-24 years, have not received any pay rises. Aleksander Koźmiński/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has said that the president-proposed 60 percent pay rise for parliamentarians is simply treating them as any other professional group.

On Friday, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a regulation that will hike the wages of undersecretaries of state and, indirectly, of MPs and senators by 60 percent. The regulation was swiftly published in the official journal of laws on the same day.

"There is nothing extraordinary here, it is treating parliamentarians just like any other professional group," the prime minister said at a press conference in Wrocław, south-western Poland, on Saturday.

Morawiecki said that "parliamentarians and local government officials in the past several years, and parliamentarians in fact in the past 23-24 years, have not received any pay rises.

"In fact, parliamentarians were the only group in Poland that suffered a wage cut three years ago," Morawiecki added.

Politicians' wages have been a burning issue in Poland. In early 2018, it was revealed that the then prime minister, Beata Szydło, had offered huge benefits to her ministers at the end of 2017.

The news backfired on the ruling party, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), and prompted its leader Jarosław Kaczyński to cut parliamentarians' wages by 20 percent to quell public anger. A relevant law on salaries was passed in June 2018.

Critics regard the president's move as a back-door way of increasing salaries that bypasses parliamentary scrutiny, claiming that the standard legislative path could dent support for the ruling party.

But in another development on Saturday, Ryszard Terlecki, a deputy speaker of the lower house, the Sejm, said the parliament could mirror the president's move and raise the salaries of the country's president, city mayors and local officials.

"A bill raising the wages of local officials, the Polish president and former presidents is ready in the Sejm and will be filed on Monday morning," Terlecki wrote on Twitter.

Asked about Terlecki's announcement, Morawiecki said it is "a certain natural consequence" of the president's pay rise for parliamentarians.

"Since local government officials also suffered a pay cut or freeze, a group of MPs have suggested that local government officials and parliamentarians should also benefit from economic growth," Morawiecki said, adding that the assumed hike will be equal to the average wage growth in the economy in the past five years.

Presidential aide Andrzej Dera said on Thursday that the president-proposed raise would amount to 60 percent for undersecretaries of state and 40 percent for managerial staff in public offices. Parliamentarians’ wages are directly linked to those of undersecretaries, so they can also expect a 60 percent pay rise.