Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iraq’s Officials Becoming Drain On Budget

An auditor from Iraq’s Finance Ministry recently warned that salaries and benefits for Iraq’s politicians may eventually wreck the country’s budget. In 2008, an average Iraqi earned $266 a month, $3,200 a year. In comparison, a member of parliament earned $7,700 a month. They also receive 30 bodyguards, free accommodation, and a personal generator that together costs up to $10,000 a month. Former officials and parliamentarians also get a pension that is 80% of their salary. On top of that, in 2009 Iraq’s parliament passed a law allowing their wives and family to carry passports for ten years. They are also eligible for low interest loans worth up to $70,000 for cars and buying property. This year expenses will rise even more as the government will have to pay for the new lawmakers and the outgoing ones. The 2010 budget is also adding new regional officials so the total number of employees is going up as well. That same budget also included a 10% pay cut, but most think that was just symbolic. The auditor warned that if costs continue to go up, it could eventually be the largest expenditure in the budget in ten years, and deprive the country of much needed investment money. To solve the problem the Finance Ministry has proposed a 50% wage reduction for all public officials. That’s highly unlikely to happen as Iraq’s top officials and politicians are said to be opposed to it. The bloated government bureaucracy and the deadlocked parliament are already big enough problems for Iraq’s development. The fact that they are largely overpaid and becoming a drain on the country’s finances only makes the situation worse.

SOURCES

Najm, Hayder, “the huge, hidden salaries of iraq’s parliamentarians,” Niqash, 4/22/10

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraqi Officials Warn Deputies’ Wages, Benefits Too High,” 4/24/10

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