Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Part time democracy, full-time remunerations

Just read this article that was published yesterday on

“Parliament convenes twice a year in two ordinary sessions -- the first starts mid-march until the end of May and the second from the middle of October through the end of December”

That’s only 5 months of democracy!

Unless the other 7 months are filled with extraordinary sessions (as if!), Lebanon is having a part-time democracy. No wonder the Lebanese politicians are not known for their decision-making capacities. It doesn’t really hurt their wallets, though: for every tour of duty, they get 4,000 USD a month in life-long payments. Given that the minimum wage is Lebanon is roughly 300 USD a month, they are making a cool 12-fold as pension.

This is cumulative by the way: every time you get reelected, you get another 4,000 USD a month. Politicians which have been Member of Parliament for 3 times, e.g., are getting 12,000 USD a month in payments. Of course, they are also getting their regular salary; you wouldn’t want them to starve, now would you?

During the last elections, it was rumored that a minister seat was for sale for roughly between 100,000 USD and a quarter of a million USD. The candidate would buy his or her place on a list through which election was guaranteed. This looks like a lot, but with the generous pension scheme, such an investment would be recouped in no time.