Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos signed a presidential order Monday raising monthly salaries of Congress members back to $12,720 per month, after a court order had lowered salaries in September.
The presidential decree came after a September ruling by a Colombian High Court stripped members of Congress from receiving two premium payments, relating to health and living in Bogota. Although Congress members will not be compensated for the lost premiums from the month of September, Congress members will now receive a new single premium valued at $4,100 per month, starting in October.
Santos chose to sign the order to appease disgruntled members of Congress who had formed something of a legislative strike, labeled “Tortoise Plan,” which resulted in the delaying of the passage of a health reform bill through Congress.
Currently, only one congressman, Ivan Cepeda of the House of Representatives – known for his staunch opposition to former President Alvaro Uribe – has rejected the raise: “It is time Congress members renounce unnecessary and unjustified privileges.”
On Monday, the Tomato Party, self-appointed representatives of the “indignant of Colombia,” called for a social media protest directed at Congress to protest the “Tortoise Plan.”
“We invite citizens, through social media networks using the hashtag #TomateElCongreso, to demonstrate their indignation at this institution and to propose mechanisms to construct the Congress that we want and deserve,” the Tomato Party said in a public statement. They are planning a nationwide “cacerolazo” – a protest in which people bang pots and pans – for this evening at 7pm.
If salaries remain constant for the year, members of Colombia’s Congress will take home $152,520.
To put this into perspective, in Britain standard Members of Parliament earn $107,000 a year, while rank-and-file members of the US Congress earn $174,000 per year.
In April 2012 economics website Portafolio reported that the average yearly wage in Colombia was $8300, compared with $39,100 in the United States and $36,800 in the United Kingdom.
- Voces a favor y en contra de la nueva prima para congresistas (El Tiempo)
- Por decreto presidencial, salarios de congresistas volvieron a subir (El Espectador)
- Anuncian ‘tomatina’ contra el Congreso por paro legislativo (El Espectador)
- CIA World Factbook
- UK Parliament: FAQ
- Here’s How Much Congress Has Been Paid During The Government Shutdown (Huffington Post)