According to a report from Associated Press, Iraq’s 325 members of parliament have collected their $90,000 stipends, are claiming $22,500 a month in salaries and allowances, and are spending free nights in Baghdad’s finest hotel.
That’s what they get for attending the only session of parliament since the March elections, a session that lasted about 20 minutes. To cap it all, they haven’t passed a single law!
In contrast, a mid-level government employee makes around $600 a month.
As the parliament prepares to hold what will be only its second session since the inconclusive election in March, lawmakers’ lavish salaries and privileges are reportedly deepening resentment among Iraqis struggling to make ends meet and frustrated with the political deadlock.
The Shiite religious leadership has warned politicians against living the high life while ordinary people lack basic services, such as electricity and water.
In a mosque sermon Friday, an aide to Iraq’s top Shiite cleric urged parliament to lower their salaries when they next meet.
“Iraqi politics has turned into business,” said Wael Abdul-Latif, an independent Shiite politician and former lawmaker from Iraq’s second largest city of Basra. “Many of the lawmakers would not even have bothered to run for the parliament” if salaries were not so high, he said.