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Beata Kempa: MPs can’t make extra money? Yes, they can

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Beata Kempa, MEP from Solidarna Polska, claims that the Polish anti-corruption law prohibits MPs from earning extra money. Meanwhile, the opposite is true, parliamentarians can earn extra money, there is only one condition. We explain which.

Beata Kempa’s statement appeared in in the context of reports from the Dutch daily “NRC”, that Radosław Sikorski receives USD 100,000 annually from the United Arab Emirates for advising on the international Sir Bani Yas conference. The Civic Platform politician was supposed to take a position favorable to the Emirates and their most faithful ally, Saudi Arabia, according to the analysis of the votes carried out by the newspaper. From the beginning of his term in the European Parliament, Radosław Sikorski showed this amount in his asset declarations. He also defends himself by saying that he voted in the same way as his parliamentary faction, the EPP.

The MEP spoke about the case of Radosław Sikorski on February 12 in the government television program “Gość Wiadomości”. She made reference to it corruption scandal in the European Parliament – Qatar and Morocco allegedly tried to influence the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament by paying bribes to people occupying important positions in this institution. “Today, when the European Parliament is reflecting on this [nad zwalczaniem korupcji] we serve Polish solutions, Polish solutions, I want to say again, those that have been scolded and criticized so often in the forum of the European Parliament. We have an anti-corruption law which forbids Polish deputies from earning extra money” – said Beata Kempa.

The MEP is wrong, she confuses the laws.

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Not this law

Beata Kempa talks about the “anti-corruption act”. This is the name of the Act of August 21, 1997. on the limitation of business activity by persons performing public functions. Contrary to what Beata Kempa says, this law cannot prohibit MPs from earning money for a simple reason – its provisions do not apply to deputies and senators. Yes, it introduces in Art. 4, a ban on conducting business activity, as well as a ban on sitting on the bodies of companies and foundations conducting business activity, but only for three categories of persons.

The first category includes persons holding managerial state positions within the meaning of the regulations the act on the remuneration of persons holding managerial state positions. These include president, prime minister and ministers, president of NIK, president of NBP, Ombudsman, etc. As well as marshals and deputy marshals of the Sejm and Senate. These parliamentarians by definition (now 11 people out of 560 deputies and senators) according to the anti-corruption act cannot earn extra money. Also, those deputies and senators who will become members of the government during their term of office – but only while performing government functions (currently 67 people).

The second category of people who are prohibited from conducting business activity are employees of state offices in managerial positions; the third group includes local government officials and managers of local government organizational units.

You can’t make extra money only on state and local government property

The issue of additional earnings of parliamentarians is regulated by the Constitution in Art. 107:

Within the scope specified in the Act, a deputy may not conduct business activity benefiting from the assets of the State Treasury or local government, or purchase such assets.

The same goes for senators. And this is the only condition we mentioned at the beginning – deputies and senators cannot therefore benefit from state and local government property.

An extension of Art. 107 of the Constitution is art. 30 sec. 1 and 1a Act of 9 May 1996 on the performance of the mandate of a Member of Parliament and a Senator“1. During the term of their mandate, deputies and senators may not perform work under an employment relationship: in the Chancellery of the Sejm, in the Chancellery of the Senate, in the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, in the Chancellery of the Constitutional Tribunal, in the Office of the Legal Service of the Constitutional Tribunal, in the Supreme Audit Office , in the Office of the Ombudsman, in the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, in the Office of the National Broadcasting Council, in the National Electoral Office, in the National Labor Inspectorate, in government administration and local government – with the exception of the employment contract of choice – and cannot perform work as a judge, deputy judge and prosecutor, administrative employee of the court and prosecutor’s office, and may not perform professional military service 1a. During the term of their mandate, deputies and senators may not be employed or perform other activities in commercial law companies, where the State Treasury or a local government unit (ed. in bold) hold, directly or indirectly through other entities, at least 10 percent. stocks or shares.

In Art. 34 sec. 1, in turn, states that: “Deputies and senators may not conduct business activity on their own account or jointly with other persons. using state or municipal propertyas well as manage such activity or be a representative or plenipotentiary in conducting such activity. They also cannot sit on the boards of such companies or have a stake of more than 10 percent. shares or shares in commercial law companies with the participation of state or municipal legal persons or entrepreneurs.

To sum up, apart from the above exceptions, the act on the performance of the mandate of a deputy and senator allows for additional work by deputies and senators who have full freedom to run a business or gainful employment. But then, according to Art. 25 sec. 3 such deputy or senator does not receive a parliamentarian’s emolument, but only an allowance.

Exceptions that prove the rule

Deputies and senators must provide information on business activity and income from it in their annual asset declarations. And so, for example, PiS MP Waldemar Olejniczak ran a business – in 2021 (the last available data) he obtained an income of over PLN 359,000. zloty; in turn, Artur Łącki, a member of the Civic Coalition, did not make a profit from his business activity in 2021, but 3.4 thousand. PLN loss.

PiS senator Grzegorz Bierecki, on the other hand, runs a business as a partner in three companies and in 2021 had almost PLN 2.2 million of income on this account. Running an independent business and in the company with his brother was declared in 2021 by Senator KO Robert Dowhan. His declared income in PIT 37 is PLN 140,000. zloty. These exemplary asset declarations therefore contradict Beata Kempa’s thesis that Polish deputies (parliamentarians) are not allowed to earn extra money.

The above examples are exceptions that prove the rule – the main source of income for Polish parliamentarians are their salaries, i.e. they are professional parliamentarians. Most of those who ran their own business before taking up their mandate resign or suspend their business activity after being elected to the Sejm or the Senate. For example, Marek Dyduch, MP of the Left, did this in 2021, who did not receive any income from his business activity.

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