Polish ministers donate bonuses to charity

Former Prime Minister Beata Szydło. Photo: Bartłomiej Zborowski / PAP

Officials adhered to a call to hand their year-end bonuses to charity by Tuesday's deadline after a wave of public criticism earlier this year.

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Beata Mazurek, the Deputy Speaker of Polish parliament’s lower house (Sejm) said on Wednesday that all active politicians, who were obliged to return their financial bonuses, have done so. She added that majority of them were given to the Christian charity organization, Caritas.

Ms Mazurek, who is also the spokesperson of the Law and Justice party, underlined that former ministers, who are “no longer in politics” did not give up their bonuses.

“Some people have shown us the transfer confirmations, others just informed us. I am sure that information given to us is reliable”, said Ms Mazurek. She also underlined that bonuses could not have been returned to national coffers, because they were a form of "remuneration", and everyone "does what they want" with it.

In April leader of Law and Justice, Jarosław Kaczyński informed that all constitutional ministers and secretaries of state who are politicians, had decided to donate their bonuses to charity. Their deadline was May 15.

Late February it was revealed that former government of Beata Szydło ministers got bonuses of between PLN 65,000 (EUR 15.500) to PLN 82,000 (EUR 19,500) gross. PM Szydło herself received PLN 65,000 (EUR 15.500). The average salary in Poland is close to PLN 5000 (EUR 1200) gross.

Bonuses were paid before the government reshuffle in which PM Szydło and some of ministers were replaced.

The revelations of the bonuses led to loud criticism from the media and the public alike. According to many analysts, the problem with ministerial bonuses caused a substantial drop in the popularity of the ruling Law and Justice party, hence the decision to hand over the money to charity institutions.

Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki announced in March that he plans to stop bonuses for ministers and their deputies.