President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson told reporters that he neither “asked for nor needs” the massive pay rise approved by the Wage Committee on election day.
At a press conference held just moments ago, where the President announced that the Independence Party had been given the mandate to form the next ruling coalition, the President was also asked about the pay rise, which granted all MPs an increase in their monthly salaries of over 300,000 ISK, while the President and the Prime Minister were given rises of half a million ISK.
“I didn’t ask for this pay rise,” the President said. “I didn’t know about this pay rise. I don’t need this pay rise. Many MPs have expressed their opposition to the Wage Committee’s decision. I expect that parliament will review this decision.”
The President said that he will be letting his rise go elsewhere. When asked where, the President replied, “I’m not Mother Theresa. I don’t need to brag about such things.”
As reported, the timing of the decision and the announcement drew considerable criticism from the general public, not to mention the fact that the half million ISK difference in previous and current salaries is actually higher than the entire monthly salary of a minimum wage worker in most trades in Iceland.
Sigurður Bessason, chairperson of Efling, one of the largest trade unions in the country, told RÚV that the decision “goes against the stability that people have been trying to build up in this country.” Reykjavík mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson chimed in on Facebook, encouraging those affected by the rise to decline the extra money.
For her part, Pirate MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir has said that she intends to decline the rise, criticising the Wage Committee itself as being an unelected body of appointees who are put in place for “political reasons”. In fact, Stundin points out that the chair and the vice chair of the committee, Jónas Þór Guðmundsson and Óskar Bergsson, where active members of the Independence Party and the Progressive Party, respectively. RÚV reports that numerous other politicians, on the parliamentary and municipal level, have spoken out against the pay rise.
A petition started just this morning calling for the closure of the Wage Committee has already received over 4,700 signatures at the time of this writing.