Prime Minister explains higher pay scale ministers and MPs

WILLEMSTAD - Members of Parliament can, if they wish, opt for a scale lower in terms of their remuneration. But ministers do not have that choice. Their salary must fall under the highest civil servant scale. This was explained by Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath.

Earlier this month, members of Parliament from both the opposition and the coalition reacted indignantly and dismissively when it turned out that, without their knowledge, the basic wage on their salary slip had been increased. The case came out after documents were leaked. It is true that, after a correction and the 25 percent cut on their employment conditions package, the same amount remains at the bottom of the line, but a large number of parliamentarians still think that it is the wrong signal, in the current crisis in which sacrifices are required from everyone.

Rhuggenaath also indicates in his letter that "the formal link with the highest scale does not result in a financial advantage". "That is not acceptable in the current financial, economic and social crisis." It was important that a solution was quickly found for the lack of the necessary legislation, according to the letter. Because formalizing the salaries of political authorities is essential to be able to meet the conditions of the Netherlands, which are attached to the second tranche of the liquidity support.

In addition to the 25 percent cut on the employment conditions package of ministers and parliamentarians, the Netherlands requires that the employment conditions of top officials within the (semi-) public sector are capped at a maximum of 130 percent of "the newly standardized salary of the Prime Minister of the Country".

"In order to actually be able to give substance to this, it is necessary that the newly standardized remuneration of the prime minister (…) is established," said Rhuggenaath. His government acted "in the interest of continuity of government", because "the conditions set by the Council of the Kingdom could no longer be delayed".

It was therefore decided, in the absence of legislation, to start from the 2006 remuneration policy, with civil servant scale 18 as the highest scale for secretaries-general (SG). It cannot be the case that measurements are taken in double standards and that for political authorities scale 17 is the highest scale, and for other personnel, such as the SGs - who are also subordinate to their minister - scale 18. So ministers and members of parliament, in terms of their remuneration, a scale higher, from 17 to 18.

In the letter of August 26, Rhuggenaath writes that the draft national ordinance "regulating the monetary provisions of the political authorities and pension provisions" is ready to be presented to the Advisory Council and will then "be presented to Parliament for approval."

If Parliament members choose to do so, their remuneration can still be determined within scale 17, step 9. In that case, the draft legislation will be amended as far as parliamentarians are concerned. But "for ministers, the reference to the highest civil servant scale remains applicable."

The Prime Minister points out that the relevant draft national ordinance regarding Parliament members was already "approved in March 2016 by the Committee for Internal Affairs of Parliament".

The committee agreed to place the remuneration of the members of Parliament in the highest civil service scale, but not with the pension provision as provided for in the draft law.