The Salaries of Lebanon’s MPs

Update: The 22.89 figure is apparently extremely erroneous. Minimum wage in Lebanon is $500. An MP’s salary is slightly less than $8000 when you include all benefits so in the best case scenario, the factor to multiply is 16 nothing more. Moreover, I was also informed that comparing the salary of a Lebanese MP with benefits to the basic salary of MPs (without benefits) only leads to a severely skewed representation. 


14
is the number of laws our parliament passed in 2012, even less in 2011.

2 is the number of general sessions it holds per year.

128 is the number of its current members, set to become 134 soon (link).

23 is approximately how many times the salary of a Lebanese MP is above and beyond that of Lebanon’s minimum wage. That number is set to increase soon because “they need more money to do their jobs.” (Number is from this infographic, which might be false).

20130502-151654.jpg

A chat with one of our MPs a while ago revealed to me that some members in our parliament are actually poor. Stop laughing, okay?
It turned out they need the extra money in order to be able to do their “job” in better ways. You know, not writing laws.

What are we paying our MPs for exactly and who is to blame for this? Not the MPs.

Being a Lebanese MP means you’re surrounded by a clout, a prestigious halo that needs to be maintained at all times. To that effect, there are certain standards of living to be kept. We pay for their convoys, their bodyguards, security measures (and maybe yachts, fancy apartments, etc.) But it’s not because the MPs demand it (I’m sure they don’t mind it), it’s because we expect it of them.

There’s a mentality among Lebanese people that if someone is not fancy enough, then that person is not cut out for certain jobs. I know this firsthand now that I’m entering the practical aspect of my future profession. The residents and interns at Lebanese hospitals are forced to wear ties and suits because – and I paraphrase – some patients immediately dismiss doctors not wearing ties and designer shirts because your dress code reflects on your medical knowledge that’s for sure.

Our country is also run on a clientalism system. The more money our MPs get, the more personal favors they can bestow upon their voters, the more votes they get and the longer they stay in office.

We perpetuate this every single time we ask one of those MPs to help us secure a job, get admitted to some university, secure a building license, lay down some asphalt on our houses’ driveways. As a way to compensate them, we go and drop their name in a voting box while wearing a custom-made shirt with his or her name emblazoned on it.

As long as we keep voting for people because of who they are and how they served us personally instead of what they actually accomplished while in office – not that we have a decent media source for such things to begin with – we don’t really get to complain about overblown MP salaries.

It’s a sad reality. But it’s not changing anytime soon.

 

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5 thoughts on “The Salaries of Lebanon’s MPs

  1. Dear Elie,
    Thank you for covering the Take Back Parliament infographic. Unfortunately though, the update you recently included is not accurate. The minimum wage in Lebanon is actually 675,000 LBP (450 USD) and (quoting http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/12188) each MP gets 12,750,000 LBP a month. The ratio is this 18.89. If you include all benefits, this number goes up to 15.45 million LBP (each MP receives 2.7 million LBP every month) — and the ratio to 22.89.

    Reply
    • Hey Maya,
      The basic salary in Lebanon is 700,000. The salary of an MP with every single benefit is 11.4 million LL per month. The basic salary without benefits is 6 million.

      My source regarding the above numbers is highly, highly credible.

      If you do relevant ratios, you’ll get 8 if we’re comparing basic salaries only and 16.28 if we’re comparing the benefit-inflated MP salary.

      Reply
      • Regarding the minimum wage, the Ministry of Labor states that the minimum wage in Lebanon is LL 675,000. (موقع وزارة العمل على الانترنت – مرسوم تعيين الحد الادنى للاجور – موقع وزارة http://www.labor.gov.lb/_layouts/MOL_Application/AllLegalText.aspx?lang=ar&type=3).

        Regarding the MP salaries, all sources we were able to find, including Al-Shahriya (the initial source of the infographic) which specializes in numbers and stats and Al-Akhbar, which states the records of the Ministry of Finance as its source (I honestly don’t have time to go through the published budget right now) cite the same numbers. The 11.4 million you cite did not include all benefits, and was a monthly cash installment, up to the recent raise. This is explained in an “Al Fasaad” interview with actuary Ibrahim Muhanna on Al Jadeed (the interview was done in Dec 2010 which was before they raised the basic salaries of all MPs, Ministers, PM and President). Conclusion: According to the sources I am citing, the 11.4 million is an old figure and does not include all benefits.

        Regardless, the truth is that the MPs are overpaid for what they do (which you point out in your blog post). A tenth of a law per MP per year should cost the public much much less than 11.4 or 15.45 million.

        Reply
  2. I am really not one to comment on things, but when I read your blog, and I came across it by pure mistake, I was really shocked by the figures on the infograph, 22.9 times minimum wage , while every other country is like 10 times .
    then I read the comments of maya, and your rebuttal, and I decided to check more in the numbers.
    I currently live in Virginia, and here In the US the salaries are clearly posted, a US senator gets paid 174000 dollars a year, assuming minimum wage mentioned in your graph are true (17,400 dollars a year) thought I couldn’t find minimum wage in the us, there is a minimum hourly wage, not a yearly or monthly one, but reading maya’s comments and your rebuttal ( I assume she has something to do with the people who published the graph, since she was so keen on defending the figures), its clear that when she calculated a Lebanese mp salary, she included in it all the benefits, while I have to clear out that a us senator gets paid174,000 $/year is without the benefits, the benefits of a us senator totals to about 1.5 million dollars a year, so if that is included to the basic salary, the total amount is about 750 times minimum wage in the us.

    this prompted me to check more in the numbers, so I called a local Lebanese mp and Lebanese parliament, and asked them directly about the salary at hand, they were nice to give me the number which is 11.2 million LL including all the benefits ( staff, secretary driver fuel and a bunch of other stuff I couldn’t understand, and was promised that a scan of the pay slip would be mailed to me soon), while the basic salary is around half of that.
    meaning that when you want to compare basic salary to basic salary of a Lebanese mp and a us senator they are both about 10 times minimum wage, but when you want to compare salary with benefits the Lebanese one is 16.5 to ( not even 22.89) to 700+ to the us senators.

    that made me want to look even more into the numbers, while I couldn’t find the figures for the Arabian countries, but all western European countries have the salaries posted on public sites, to my surprise these numbers (basic arithmetic’s) also didn’t “check” with the ones posted on the graph, and are in most cases 10 fold the ones published on the graph when benefits were included, and a bit off when basic salaries were only calculated.

    while I do agree about elie’s article, especially clientalism which is a way of life in Lebanese politics, and the love of the Lebanese for the show off and how they judge mainly on appearances, and while personally I m not fond of any politician whether Lebanese or not, and believe all politicians to be self centered(to be polite), and honestly I don’t know if 11.2 million LL/month is enough for a Lebanese mp to do a good job or not, since I don’t live here and I don’t know the fees required by a good legal expert, researcher or any other expert for that matter, which is a requirement for any mp to do a good job, hell I don’t even know the price of stationary in Lebanon, so I m really not in a position to defend either point of view.

    I wrote this comment for only one reasons, is that I was REALLY SHOCKED and actually disgusted, by the people who published this graph, the fact that you used flawed numbers( and I was one to fall for the trickery) just so you can promote your point of view, and go on your wild witch hunt, doesn’t make you any better than the people you are trying to criticize, it only shows that you are willing to use any means even immoral ones to attain your goals ,and if I was to vote I would NEVER replace these people with YOU cause I for one would prefer overpaid people not doing their jobs, to immoral Machiavelli people.
    respect
    PS: elie these comments were not for you, and sorry for using your blog to point out my point of view, but I think this is the reason for this blog, and the immoral thing that was done here, should be mentioned

    Reply
    • Dear Mike, I just came upon your comment and wanted to answer you. Thank you for the invaluable information you’ve provided. We have provided our source for the information — all we did was put them in a graphic and do not claim responsibility for the numbers. Please address your questions to Al-Shahriya magazine and Al-Akhbar. Funny how we end up being immoral Machiavellis…

      Reply

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