Lawmakers on Monday voted to give ministers a hefty raise of NIS 5,000 ($1,450) per month and the prime minister an extra NIS 5,500 ($1,600).
Following a stormy meeting, the Knesset Finance Committee voted to increase the base salary of the ministers to NIS 44,200 ($13,000) a month, while the prime minister will now be earning NIS 49,600 ($14,500) a month. In total this will cost the state an additional NIS 2 million ($600,000) a year.
The committee also decided that ministers’ future salary increases will be linked to the average wage rather than to the consumer price index.
In addition to their salary, ministers have a wide range of other benefits, including 26 vacation days per year, allowances for clothing and housing, a car with a driver, offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv along with a staff, and preferential pension conditions.
Salaries for other Knesset members and judges are linked to the average wage, but since 2001 ministerial salaries had been linked to the cost of living index which at that time rose steeply. The current decision means that all members of the parliament will receive wage increases along the same scale in the future.
Due to the different methodologies of calculating the wage increase for the past several years, currently the speaker of the Knesset earns more than the prime minister, and the head of the opposition earns more than a government minister.
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), who heads the Finance Committee, said that he had felt guilty about the distorted reality whereby some Knesset members earned more than ministers. He said, “No one else had the courage to do this but me,” Ynet news reported.
Opposition MK Karine Elharrar (Yesh Atid) said, “It looks very bad that the government worries about ministers more than the disabled and the elderly.”
As they did last year, Yesh Atid MKs decided to give up their salary increase, expected to be some NIS 1,300 ($380) monthly, Ynet reported, while Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz also asked Gafni to exclude him from the raise.
“At this time, when disadvantaged groups such as the disabled and others struggle for minimum living standards with dignity,” Katz said, “I prefer that this money be transferred for those important goals,” Hadashot news reported.