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Kosovo parliamentarians earn around eight times the average salary once their generous bonuses are thrown in, data reveal.
Kosovo MPs earn an average of 25,000 euro per year, more than eight times the national average, according to Prishtina Insight’s analysis of data released by the Assembly.
Members of Parliament also earn nearly twice as much as their colleagues in Albania and Macedonia in terms of total compensation.
Kosovo MPs’ base pay is just under 18,000 euro. But they frequently fatten their paychecks with extras, big and small.
Assembly Speaker Jakup Krasniqi earns an extra 500 euro a month for chairing sessions of parliament, for example.
This is on top of the extra 5 euro that each MP gets for each working day.
Additional pay kicks in a variety of other cases include leadership posts, committee assignments and workshop attendance.
Safete Hadergjonaj, from the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, described her pay as an MP as reasonable.
“Taking into account the work that parliamentarians do without advisers or assistants, the salary of an MP is within limits,” said Hadergjonaj, who supplemented her salary by around 5,000 euro in 2012.
Arben Gashi, an MP from the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, said he took a pay cut by working as an MP.
“I worked earlier in civil society and had a bigger salary then than what I earn today,” said Gashi, who added around 5,000 euro to his base pay in 2012.
Ahmet Isufi, an MP from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, admitted that MPs are paid quite well, “considering the poverty and social problems” in Kosovo generally.
MPs also get supplements of 10 to 30 euro for traveling to Assembly sessions in Prishtina.
Seventy-five of Kosovo’s 120 MPs claimed a total of 170,560 euro in travel expenses in 2012, about 2,300 apiece on average.
Among them are two MPs who live in Prishtina, Donika Kada Bujupi, of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, and Blerta Deliu Kodra, of the PDK.
Bujupi said she had claimed travel expenses from her additional home, which is in Istok.
Kodra did not respond to Prishtina Insight’s questions.
Agron Demi, who heads the GAP think tank in Prishtina, says MPs are overpaid. He believes their salaries should more closely match average wages in Kosovo.
“Making the salary of a Member of Parliament [no more than] three or four times more than the average salary in Kosovo [would be fairer],” Demi said.
“This way, Members of Parliament would notice, in their own pocket, the increase or decrease of the income of the population they represent.”
The Serbian paramilitary who became a key prosecution witness at his former comrades’ trial for war crimes in Kosovo says he had to speak out about the brutal massacres his unit committed.