Colombia’s congress will debate a motion to reduce the salaries of high earning lawmakers by almost half after a recent pay rise spurred mass indignation.
The bill proposes a reduction in salary from 27.9 million pesos ($9,549) to 13.9 million pesos ($4,713) per month, excluding benefits and compensations.
The move comes following widespread indignation at a 7.7% increase which was agreed upon allowing Senators to earn in more than 40 times the country’s minimum wage, which is 690,000 pesos ($236).
“If Congress wants to give the right message to the country, they should advance reform in this regard,”said Senaor Jimmy Chamorro, member of the coalition U Party and advocate of the plan.
The issue of senator’s salaries has caused widespread discontent in Colombia where inflation in rampant and the 50% of the labor force that earns minimum wage only received a 7% pay rise.
The plan will be proposed as a rejection of the approval of Decree 1056 of 2016, issued on 27 June by the President of the Republic sanctioning the increase in pay and will see a “payment per session” model replace the existing practice.
To curb chronic absenteeism among senators, the bill proposes to lower the wage and remunerate lawmakers for their presence at committee meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday and just one or two on Thursdays.
“It’s time to change the mindset that whoever reaches the Senate or the House understand that they don’t go for monetary benefit, but as an act of service to the country,” stated Chamorro.
The bill will propose that those who do not attend ordinary sessions which range from 20 July to 16 December and 16 March to 16 June will not receive renumeration.
In addition, U Party president Senator Amando Benedetti said he will “seek consensus with other party colleagues to accompany this initiative,” which will reduce by two thirds the direct costs involved in each of the lawmakers in the Senate and House. if approved by the same lawmakers.