Published On: Wed, Feb 21st, 2024

Laughing all the way to the bank

By Hilbert Haar

Much has been said but little has been done about the generous pension plans for politicians who miss the cut during an election – and it is costing the country, and by extension the tax payers, a fricking fortune.

The result of the January 11 elections shows that ten members of parliament have lost their seats. They will not return and they will therefore be out of a job. However, money-wise they have nothing to worry about. This is due to the self-imposed political pension scheme for politicians that lose their seats. In a country where a lot of people live below the poverty line, this money-grabbing scheme is an insult to common sense.

Let’s take a look at the numbers. A member of parliament receives a monthly salary that is 5 percent above the highest scale for civil servants – $11,539 or 20,655 guilders.

So what happens to parliamentarians who lose their seat? Well, they receive what is called a political pension that graces their bank accounts for a maximum of two years. Parliamentarians who have already reached pensionable age (like NA-stalwart William Marlin) do not qualify for this scheme. The same is true for NA-MP George Pantophlet and (probably) also for UP-MP Sidharth Bijlani.

That leaves seven former MPs who are going to be laughing all the way to the bank for the next two years. Between them, these MPs received (7 x $11,539) $80,773 per month during their tenure.

Now that they have disappeared from the political arena they are still going to cost the community a pretty penny. During the first three months after their retirement, they receive 95% of their former remuneration: $230,203. The next seven months their pay is going down to 85 percent; it adds up to $480,599.

After those ten months of happy retirement there are two tranches left: 10 months of 75 percent ($605,800) and four months of 70 percent ($226,164).

Altogether these seven former MPs are going to cost the community a maximum of more than 1.5 million dollars. To be exact; $1,542,766.

There could of course still be some good news after the formation of the new government is complete. Some former MPs could become ministers in the new government and that could open the door to parliament for candidates who missed the cut on January 11.

I do not disagree with the argument that politicians need some form of financial protection, but I think there should be a limit to it.

I mean, an individual former MP is now going to receive over the next two years between $10,962 and $8,077 per month. If he or she gets another job, that income will be deducted from the pension. But with that kind of money coming in, who is going to look for work?

In the meantime, the people these now former politicians were supposed to represent are breaking their backs in minimum-wage jobs, wondering if they will be able to make ends meet at the end of each month.

Is that fair? Of course not, but we all know that the world is not fair and nobody knows this better than our politicians.

I would not have a problem with a scheme whereby every ousted parliamentarian receives, say, $4,000 a month for two years. In the example described above, that would already bring the total burden for the community down from more than 1.5 million dollars to $672,000. That is still a lot of money but it would free up almost one million that could be used to help people who are currently living on or below the poverty line. And four grand a month would not exactly turn former parliamentarians into beggars.

I know, I know. This is a pipe dream. Our politicians are never going to cut down their ridiculous benefits to a reasonable level. You really think the newly elected parliament is going to do something about this? Keep dreaming.