Kosovo suspends wage hikes for top government officials

Kosovo suspends wage hikes for top government officials
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje February 1, 2018

Kosovan Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has temporarily suspended the payment of significant wage increases for top government officials, including for himself, due to harsh criticism from the opposition and Kosovo’s Anti-Corruption Agency.

On December 20, the government decided to increase monthly salaries, which would have seen Haradinaj’s gross salary doubled to €2,950. This is more than eight times the average salary in Kosovo, one of Europe’s poorest countries, and would have put him at the top of the highest-paid prime ministers in the region. 

Haradinaj’s counterpart in Albania, Edi Rama, for instance, earns €1,700 while Macedonia PM Zoran Zaev receives €1,300, according to research by the Kosovan media. The salary of Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic is €1,130 whereas Ana Brnabic, prime minister of Serbia, earns just €1,000.

However, the pay rises were suspended after Kosovo’s Anti-Corruption Agency said that the government’s decision to double or significantly increase wages of top officials was not legally based.

After that around 30 MPs asked the Constitutional Court for an opinion on the legal basis of the government’s decision.

This has resulted in a public rift between the government and the Anti-Corruption Agency. 

In a Facebook post, Haradinaj said on January 31 that the opinion of the agency is politically motivated, but the government will in any case wait for the Constitutional Court’s opinion on the issue.

On January 30, government argued that the agency does not have the right to interfere in this area. “The agency’s opinion is characterised not only by numerous legal inaccuracies, but also by a non-professional and potentially influenced approach to the interpretation of legal provisions regarding the conflict of interest in the exercise of constitutional and legal functions by the government,” the government said in a statement on January 30.

The average salary in Kosovo is €354 per month and €463 for employees in the public administration.