Opinion: Salary cuts

POSTED: 01/14/14 12:28 PM

Making a gesture that simply translates into leading by example is apparently not as simple as it seems. Take the salary cuts the members of the cabinet have slipped into the budget without making a big deal of it. The questions this decision triggered in parliament varied from – is it necessary to change the law to do this to the effect on net income and everything in between.

Let’s have a closer look at the numbers for our prime minister. Her gross annual salary for 2014 will be cut from 255,513 guilders to 225,513 guilders.

Because vacation allowance is a percentage of this salary, it also goes down, by a mere 1,908 guilders. Under the post “several compensations and allowances” there is a cut of 1,800 guilders. Believe it or not, ministers received a cost of living adjustment payment. Last year this was 6,611 guilders; this year, it’s zip. The contribution to the pension fund goes down by 4,200 guilders. Several minor posts also go down.

The prime minister will furthermore economize on travel and accommodation costs: it goes from 90,000 to 56,941 guilders; as a projection that is awfully precise.

A last point is the representation costs. In 2013, they were budgeted as 9,000 guilders, but later this amount was adjusted to close to 50,000 guilders. The same amount is on the budget for 2014.

Summarizing, the personnel costs for the prime minister skydive from 356,601 guilders in 2013 to 302,570 guilders this year – representing 54,030 guilders in savings, or 15.15 percent. Material costs also go down, by 22.07 percent from 149,787 guilders to 116,728 guilders – saving the taxpayer 33,059 guilders. The total savings on the budget for the prime minister add up to 87,089 guilders, or 17.2 percent.

It is hard to find fault with the decision by the cabinet and while the sentiment in parliament seemed to be divided on the issue yesterday, we figure that at the end of the day our parliamentarians will also see their salaries go down this year. It is not going to close any significant gap in the budget, or solve huge financial problems, but it is for sure a decision that will resonate with the electorate later this year.

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