|Auto Blu parked on a sidewalk in Rome|
Every normal country in a period of austerity is witnessing politicians scrambling to give a good example cutting their salaries and benefits, after all electors would not digest massive cuts and tax increases if those in charge of the public welfare are not subject to them as well.
In Italy on the contrary not only the ultra-pampered political class has been unscathed by the recent wave of austerity but does not even bother to hide their privileges and rampant greed to the eyes of the nation.
The special report actually quote an MP who decided to talk of this publicly, maybe in a very uncommon act of guilt and shame.
For those outside of Italy who complain about political privileges, well you want to read the following and rejoice:
The Italian Parliament is normally working from Tuesday to Thursday although with the latest Government the working week has been reduced to 2 days, never in the last 2 years the Parliament has convened on Friday.
The base monthly salary of an Italian MP is 5.486,58 euro net to which you have to add a bonus of 3.503,11 euro; this bonus is simply given to attend Parliament's sessions and should be reduced of 206 euro for every day of absence although if you are absent only once in a series of 3 sessions it does not matter, no deduction is taken. No wonder there are record number of absences among Italian MPs also given the fact that Italian MPs can keep their previous profession and salary while serving in the Parliament.
On top of this there is a further 3.690 euro per month to cover expenses in the local district of the MPs and a further 1500 euro per month to cover transport expenses, travel and mobile expenses.
Total: 14000 euro per month net for a newly elected MPs, veterans can add further bonuses.
Furthermore they receive 3690 euro net per month to pay assistants, many of the MPs do not hire one but still they pocket this amount since there are no controls and the amount is paid regardless.
Others hire assistants without contracts and pay them in black or in other cases 2 or 3 MPs hire one assistant who work for all of them and then split the salary to pocket the rest.
Even more, they receive 3098 euro per year to cover telephone bills and 1500 euro to purchase laptops, all without need of receipts and obtained regardless of being used or not. If you spend more than 3098 euro on calls, no problem the amount will be covered by the Parliament just the same.
Do they want to buy a car, they get an exclusive discount only for MPs which can go according to the car brand from 10 to 25%. All MPs are exempt from paying toll-highways, trains, flights (but it must be first class), ships and buses regardless if for public or personal reasons, it is enough to show you MP badge.
Of course from the airport to your villa or Parliament you cannot pay a taxi so a further allowance between 1.007 to 1.331 euro per month is provided to cover taxi expenses. The only expense not covered is flight travels abroad but since they can accumulate air miles with their free Alitalia travels, even if only to have a cappuccino in a different city, they can swap those miles for free international tickets.
If you decide to take your car and you get a ticket for whatever reason, no problem you can simply ask a special office of the Parliament to contact local authorities and invoking official reasons ask to destroy the ticket.
Of course it is rare for many of them to use private cars since the legendary "Blue Cars" are readily available.
Blue Cars is the nickname for official cars (almost all of them are dark blue), there are 86000 cars in service (as a comparison in United States there are only 72000 government cars with a government and population 6 times in size) and available to any medium-high governmental officers, including top MPs.
They cost to the state 3 billion euro per year.
There are of course Blu Flights as well, government airplanes used by MPs in some cases even for private reasons, after all Prime Minister Berlusconi used government flights to ship entreneurs, jokers and musicians to his villa in Sardinia as witnessed by judges investigating one of his many sex scandals.
As an MP if you want to relax and watch a show or a football match, you are entitled to free entry to almost any sport event in Italy, it is sufficient to show your special card.
The Parliament restaurant is a top class restaurant where meal are served with a 5 star service and quality, below a copy of the menu and relative prices in euro: a grill steak between 2 and 5 euro a main pasta meal at 1.60 euro, this gourmet restaurant is much cheaper than the dirtiest kebab place.
Do you need a mortgage to buy a villa there is a special bank in the Parliament that provide all MPs with a consistent lower interest rate for mortgages and lending, just a mere 2 per cent of interest rates.
If you feel a little bit stressed by the political intrigues and you need a Shiatsu massage or a thermal spa, no worries you get even that free and if you need prescription lenses, any spa treatment or therapies they are free for both MPs and families.
Of course life expectancy with such a stressful job is very low and MP have the right to retire with a pension on average of 6000 euro per month net after only 5 years of service in the Parliament.