PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on Wednesday explained the reduction in the employment benefits of Ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs), noting that more than 25% had been cut when all the checks and balances are considered.
The cuts form part of the conditions imposed by the Dutch government for the second tranche of liquidity support the country had received in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jacobs explained that calculations had been done and the Ministry of Finance had provided the information on Tuesday. She said this has to be handled in the Council of Ministers, following which, questions posed on the matter can be responded to.
“I wanted to clarify that … it is definitely not a deliberate act to not make the cuts as proposed. Based on the fact that 2020 was a six-month or a half-year and 2021 a full year, the changeover of the amount that had to be done was not done, but indeed had that been done, it would have cut much more than 25%. So, the way the law was set up and with the cuts that have been made, it is not that we paid less than we should have, because we paid too much or we cut more,” Jacobs said.
She explained: “On the payroll for the political authorities, 15% is taken from the salaries, which was defined within the law, the vacation pay [and] cash removal, which amounted to some 10% and there were other provisions made to be removed. Six% is also withheld and this will not be returned as with the other civil servants.
“So, based on the fact that 2020 was a half year (and for the record, 10% was cut from April of 2020, even before a discussion on the law started in July), in 2020, we made this 10% cut and therefore with the law going into place, 5.5% more was paid in 2020 from political authorities than was required.
“In the following year, the adjustment, it has now been calculated, was not made for the full year based on the 2020 being a half year – that adjustment was not made. However further calculations have shown that actually more than the 25% has been saved in terms of the political authorities’ budget for 2021 and moving forward.
“The amendment of the law for the wachtgeld [reduced pay – Ed.], as you know it, was a savings of some 18.5% as well, so we have to have further deliberations and the calculations have to be made in terms of how much more was paid and, if necessary, adjustments to the law will be made so that those can be counted along as well.
“So, for 2021 what came from the actual salaries was only 21% and, as I mentioned before, there was an overpayment in 2020 or an over-cut in 2020 of some 5.5%.
“So, actually it could balance out if you look at it that way in terms of what was taken out too much in 2020 and the four% that wasn’t taken out in 2021 – that would balance out there and we still have the balance of 2022 to rectify any other discrepancies, also taking into account again that 18.5% cut was made to the budget of political authorities since 2020.”
Jacobs said also that “for 2022 we are not on par to pay out our 6% [vacation allowance] and already the 10% plus the representation cost and other cost that comes off from our salaries is done.
“So up until now we are already at 21% for 2022 and we will have to determine based on the 8.6% that has been seen as a cut in the personnel cost of political authorities since 2020 that that should also be counted and so we have surpassed the 25% every year thus far if you do the checks and balances on it.
“So, we’re happy that the question came up so that we can check to see how it was applied on the operational level, but I just wanted clarity in that this does not become another sensation.”
She said the cuts were one of the key points of the Kingdom decision and she has had to defend that position more than once.
Irion’s previous explanation
Back in February 2021 when the law was passed for the reduction in benefits, in explaining the build-up to the 25% reduction for MPs at the time, Finance Minister Ardwell Irion had said a 10% reduction was applied as of April 1, 2020.
This, he had said at the time, included no longer granting monthly allowance for representation, which saved 6%; discontinuing the monthly compensation for transport expenses which saved NAf. 500; and reduction in the remuneration until 10% was reached.
Irion said Jacobs’ NAf. 21,294.55 remuneration had been reduced by 6% and by 2.348%. To reach 10%, a further reduction of 1.652% has to be made. This is equal to an amount of NAf. 351.79. The remuneration of other ministers and the chairperson of parliament and minister plenipotentiary of NAf. 20,368.70 had been reduced by 6% and 2.455%. To get to 10%, a further reduction of 1.545% had to be made. This is equal to an amount of NAf. 314.70.
The remuneration of NAf. 19,442.85 for other MPs, he said at the time, had been reduced by 6% and 2.572%. To reach 10%, a further reduction of 1.428% had to be made. This is equal to an amount of NAf. 277.64.
He said at the time that as of July 1, 2020, there had been an additional 15% cut. This included not granting any vacation allowance equivalent to 6% and a reduction in remuneration by 9%. The measures as of April 1, 2020, and as of July 1, 2020, resulted in a total reduction of the employment packages of 25% and of the following total remuneration reductions:
The Prime Minister 1.652% (NAf. 351.79) plus 9% (NAf. 1,916.51), which equalled 10.652% (NAf. 2,268.30).
The other ministers, chairperson of parliament and minister plenipotentiary: 1.545% (NAf. 314.70) plus 9% (NAf. 1,833.18), totalling 10.545% (NAf. 2,147.88). Plus, the other MPs 1.428% (NAf. 2,77.64), plus 9% (NAf. 1,749.86) totalling 10.428% (NAf. 2,027.50), Iron had explained back then.
Bron: Daily herald