Knesset passes bill to freeze MKs 2021 pay hike

The explanatory notes attached to the bill state that by freezing their salaries MKs will be “setting a personal example.”

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The Knesset plenum on Monday passed legislation that prevents the increase in Members of Knesset (MK) salaries in January 2021.

The bill was passed unanimously with a 39-0 vote.

The salaries of MKs are based on the average salary in Israel, which has risen significantly due to the large number of low wage earners who were laid off due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) financial crisis.

A bizarre situation has developed recently in which the average wage in Israel has gone up during the financial crisis, because those with low wages are now unemployed, while the very high wage earners have maintained their jobs, and so only their incomes are counted when calculating the average income.

The MKs salaries and those of senior civil service officials are updated annually, in accordance with the rise of the average income. This year, because of the financial oddity, they are slated to receive a several thousand shekels raise.

The MKs were due for a significant monthly raise of NIS 6,500. The MK salary will now remain at about NIS 45,000 a month, four times the average salary in Israel.

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The explanatory notes attached to the bill state that by freezing their salaries MKs will be “setting a personal example and strengthening the public’s trust in the Knesset and in the elected officials.”

“The annual increase in the salary of MKs is scandalous in itself, and stems from the fact that their salary is not determined by a public committee, but by the members of Knesset themselves – an issue the Knesset has discussed in a separate bill.”

During the debate that preceded the vote, MK Eitan Ginzburg said that “it seems to me that it is clear to everyone that, at this time, a salary increase for public representatives and other senior office holders in Israel is not only unreasonable, it is also unworthy.”

“When the citizens of Israel are in such a difficult economic crisis that, unfortunately, may accompany us for a long time, when people are losing their source of income and do not know how they will [make ends meet], the last thing that should happen is that our salaries will increase, certainly when the increase is disproportional,” he said.

MK Shlomo Karhi, who submitted a reservation to the bill, explained that it “temporarily freezes for one year the expected dramatic salary increase, but the salary will increase again [in 2022] without taking into consideration the situation of the unemployed people in the economy.”