Members of parliament underpaid by as much as €1,600 per month

Riigikogu members in session.
Riigikogu members in session. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Members of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) have been done out of as much as €1,600 per month, due to a flaw in a law originally brought in during the economic crisis of 2008 onwards, it is reported.

According to a report on weekly Eesti Päevaleht, the oversight means that MPs' salaries are at least €400 less than they should be, and notes that using the earlier salary calculation method, monthly take-home pay would be about £1,600 more than it is at present.

The roots of the issue go back to the financial crisis of 2008 onwards, when the government bowed to pressure to change the existing law, which had previously set MPs salaries at four times the national average, due to its unpopularity in the face of the huge economic downturn.

The ensuing law, the Salary Act for Senior Civil Servants (KRAPS) brought the salaries of MPs in line, together with those of the President of the Estonian Republic, government ministers, members of the judiciary as well as several senior civil servants, judges, and set at a reported €5,200.

Glitch in the law

Salaries were henceforth based on an index which was linked to inflation and social security contributions. However, an error was made when drafting the law which meant that current salaries were not indexed as time went on, and calculations remained based on the 2012 level.

Furthermore, since the pre-KRAPS salary was four times the national average, as the economy has subsequently grown and with it wages, it appears to MPs that they are being underpaid even more compared with the earlier, heartier days.

The good news for the MPs is that change is on the horizon; KRAPS has been amended and rollback indexing introduced which will deal with the shortfall in calculations retrospectively, it is reported.

This is to be brought into effect from the beginning of the next parliamentary assembly, which starts on Monday, 10 September. The changes for civil servants and bureaucrats have already come into immediate effect, however.

Speaker of the parliament Eiki Nestor told Eesti Ekspress that what had previously constituted four times the national average, ie. When KRAPS was introduced, now only represents about 2.5 times the average.

Nonetheless this has not deterred Riigikogu members from doing their national duty, according to Mr. Nestor'' The salary level doesn't put off people from being [parliamentary] candidates,'' said Mr. Nestor.

The current average salary in Estonia is a little over €1,200 per month.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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