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Italian pols to have pensions trimmed PDF Print E-mail
Dec 04, 2011 at 11:08 PM

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Incredible but true. The Italian parliament has decided to prove to the country that its members are as willing as the next Italian to make sacrifices to deal with the ongoing financial crisis. And so, earlier this week, the speakers of both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate agreed that starting immediately MPs would no longer enjoy the right to getting a lifetime pension starting from their 50th birthdays even when they have served in parliament for only a single term.

At the moment, there are 1,377 ex deputies and 861 ex senators (along with a certain number of widows and widowers) who for years have been getting monthly checks for amounts ranging from €3108 (in the case of someone who served only one term) to €9947 in the case of a senator who served 32 years before retiring.

Starting on January 1, pensions for legislators will be calculated as they are now for younger Italians (and will soon  be for all Italian workers) on the basis of a contributory plan where one's pension depends on how much has been put in by employee and employer and does not reflect the length of service or the level of salary. In other words, their pensions will be significantly smaller than they are today. Furthermore, strating next year the pensions  will only be paid out when a retired legislator has hit the age of 60.

In the United Statesm  Members of Congress are also eligible for a pensionat the age of 50, but only if they've completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62.

Previously, ex-legislators qualified for a life-time pension (starting at age 50) at the same rate as their salary even if they served in parliament only for a single, five-year term, that is for about 35 months (considering vacations etc) whereas almost everyone else here has to work for 35 years before getting a pension. This is just one of the perks that legislators enjoy and which have so irritated ordinary Italians who would like to see the costs of politics sharply curtailed. Many are hoping that measures passed by the new Monti government will include those of cutting the number of MPs and Senators in half from the present number of 1000, eliminating some levels of government, like Italy' 88 provinces, and eliminating electoral subsidies to the country's myriad parties.

In the meantime, here's a quick look at why members of parliament are so resented: Their basic salary is about 10,000 euros a month amounting to a total of €144,000 per year. They also have expense stipends, for office help, that many simply pocket, reimbursement for rentals for the three nights a week (on average) they are in Rome (and even those who live in Rome get this), binging the total amount paid them monthly to 19,150 euros a month, rougly $25,700, compared to the . The also get free cell phone service, movie and theatre tickets, bus and subway tickets (although it is doubtful they ever use public transport) domestic air and rail tickets, highway tolls, accident and life insurance, museum tickets and so on. They are the best paid in Europe (where the average pay is abut 50% of the Italian legislator's salary) and total salaries paid out to Senators and MPs amount to roughly 1.7 billion euros a year. Given the average Italian salary, which is probably less than €1500 a month, it really is appalling.

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