It’s not news that the lawmakers from the Cambiemos Coalition and the Victory Front (FpV) have diametrically opposed visions when it comes to, well, just about everything. That’s why one would think that them finally agreeing on something, as it happened yesterday, would be a reason for universal celebration. However, this might not be the case for more than one person, as what they agreed on happened to be the formal decision of giving themselves a raise.
President of the Chamber of Deputies, Emilio Monzó, passed the ‘extraordinary’ salary raise yesterday with the support from several political parties in Congress who requested the measure in a letter last week.
The letter, signed by Pro’s Nicolás Massot, UCR’s Mario Negri, Coalición Cívica’s Fernando Sánchez, the leader of the Victory Front’s caucus in the Chamber Héctor Recalde, Peronismo para la Victoria’s Leonardo Grosso and Juntos por Argentina’s Franco Caviglia, requests for a raise on the “representation expenses” and bus and plane tickets, which, they say, has been out of date since 2011.
Sergio Massa’s Frente Renovador and Margarita Stolbizer’s Generación para un Encuentro Nacional party however, didn’t sign the petition. The Leftist Party, headed by Néstor Pitrola, also refused, and told La Nación that the raise is “more profane than last year’s, because there are more austerity measures and the [people’s] loss of purchasing power is bigger.”
In this case, the deputies are asking for a 100 percent increase on two items of their salaries: the so-called “representation expenses” — a bonus they get for working outside the provinces they represent — which is currently at AR $10,000, and in the money they receive to regularly travel back to them. In regards to this last item, the lawmakers can also keep the money they don’t spend. They are given 40 vouchers for transportation expenses they can either use or change for money. Combined, these vouchers currently amount to a total of AR $20,000, they requested that it be increased to AR $40,000.
The deputies decided to increase these parts of their salaries last September, but had to backtrack following a massive public outcry. However, the senators decided to keep the increases anyway, and now their colleagues in the Lower House requested to earn the same as them.
Sánchez, from the Coalición Cívica, told La Nación the extras “are part of our salary and haven’t been updated since 2011. We’re not asking for anything weird. If a worker sees an item not being upgraded over time, it’s natural to make a claim.” Recalde, from the Victory Front, also justified the demand. “I don’t think it demonstrates a lack of sensitivity [towards the people]. I believe in the public financing of politics, not in the private sponsorship under the table. It’s money we spend to perform our roles. There’s a bigger responsibility in what we do, and risks are also bigger.”