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Iranians React Angrily To High Payments To Lawmakers

Salary and benefits paid to lawmakers of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) has sparked criticism. FILE PHOTO.

Iranian social media users have strongly reacted to the disclosure of salary and benefits for newly seated lawmakers after the disclosure of their first paychecks.

On Tuesday Hossein Jalali a hardliner member of the parliament disclosed that his first paycheck amounted to 2.31 billion rials or $10,500, based on the free market exchange rate; an astronomical figure for individual income in Iran.

Jalali said his fixed salary was 110 million rials (approximately $500) but he had received 2 billion (about $9,000) as housing aid and an extra 200 million rials for other expenses. This means salaries and benefits for lawmakers has doubled since 2017.

Several Twitter users have pointed out that Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Industries workers are on day 23 of their strike for two month's of unpaid wages, while others have compared the 2 million rial monthly housing benefits of workers with the $2 billion which lawmakers have received. The parliament, however, says the payment to lawmakers is a one-off payment as security deposit for renting residences in the capital.

Social media users have also criticized the high payments because most of the lawmakers who are from the hardliner camp claim to be defenders of the poor and the underprivileged.

Reza (Morad) Vaisi, journalist, in a tweet on Tuesday said it does not matter for what purpose this sum was paid to the lawmakers. "For the worker who has not been paid in months and makes every effort to save face in front of his children, this is pure lies and corruption in the name of jihadi management and a parliament of so-called revolutionaries".

The security deposit and monthly rent allocated to lawmakers pays for a medium-sized apartment in middle-class neighborhoods of the capital.

Mohammad-Hossein Farhangi, the Parliament Presidium's spokesperson, reacted to the criticism on social media and the press on Wednesday. Farhangi said the payment of housing aid to lawmakers had always been done in the past and they also were given a certain amount for renting an office, hiring staff and miscellaneous expenses but the money paid as housing aid was a zero-interest loan to be deducted from lawmakers salaries in a gradual manner.

Mohammad Dehqan, a former lawmaker and member of the Legal and Judicial Committee told Fararu that lawmakers' salaries were not all at the same level. "On average every lawmaker receives about 200 to 250 million rials as salary and expenses," he said and added that they can also apply for no-interest loans of 1.5 billion ($7,000).