Polish president gave himself bonus on last day as Sejm marshal

The Polish popular newspaper ‘SuperExpress’ reports today that president Komorowski approved bonuses for himself and other members of the parliament’s presidium on his last day as acting president and speaker of the Polish parliament’s lower chamber.

SuperExpress reports that Komorowski received a bonus of 22,000 PLN (ca. 5500 €) before he resigned to be inaugurated as president. His deputies, the so-called vice-marshals, received bonuses between 36,000 and 50,000 PLN (9,000-12,500 €). Bonuses were also paid at later dates – one in October 2010 and another one in December. One of the vice-marshals, ‘Civic Platform’ politician Stefan Niesolowski, justified the payment of bonuses with the increased workload after the Smolensk tragedy. This, however, raises the question why Jerzy Wenderlich (Democratic Left Alliance) and Ewa Kierzkowska (Polish Peasant’s Party) – who both entered office more than two months after the tragedy as a replacement for party colleagues who died in the crash of the presidential aircraft in Smolensk – received the same amount as the other vice-marshals. In this respect, the significantly lower bonus of Komorowski (still ten times more than the average monthly salary in Poland) even seems relatively honest.

In response to the reports, incumbent Sejm marshal Grzegorz Schetyna followed the argument of his party colleague Niesiołowski but declared he was open to a revision of the rules on bonuses. The payment of bonuses to the Sejm leadership is decided by the Sejm marshal and his deputies alone and not by parliament.

Even if one might argue that the increased workload justifies bonuses, the story leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. In the same interview, Schetyna said that payments were made out of a special fund in the budget of the Sejm leadership and amounted to the same sum as in earlier years. However, it is worth remembering that then there were no events that would have increased the workload of the Sejm marshals and could have served as a justification for such bonuses.

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