As millions of Spaniards struggle with rising energy, food and fuel prices among other spiralling living costs, the Spanish government has given the green light to splurge €1.23 million of taxpayers’ money on mobile phones, tablets and laptops for its 350 MPs.
The 825 next-generation mobile phones include 550 iPhones and 275 Samsung devices with internal storage of up to 512GB and 6-inch OLED screens, all of which will be insured and include technical assistance as part of the deal.
Although it has not been officially confirmed, the Apple devices are likely to be iPhone 13s, which currently have a high street value of between €900 and €1,800 in Spain.
Lower House employees, parliamentary advisors and other civil servants working in El Congreso de los Diputados (the Spanish Parliament) are also set to receive a free mobile.
The parliamentary tech upgrade, published in Spain’s State Bulletin (BOE) on Wednesday September 7th, has been deemed necessary as mobiles are “elements of assistance to parliamentary duties” and the last free devices MPs were given were iPhone 8s that don’t reportedly have the necessary capabilities for current security standards, nor can they have the latest iOS and Android software installed.
Members of Parliament belonging to centre-right party Ciudadanos will not accept the free mobiles, according to their leader Inés Arrimadas.
“It’s madness that in the midst of the crisis Spain is undergoing, the Spanish Parliament will spend more than a million euros to give all MPs the most expensive mobile phones on the market,” Arrimadas tweeted, calling on the Lower House to “rectify” its decision.
When 350 Members of the Spanish Parliament received free mobiles, tablets and home internet in 2016, only five of them turned down the handout.
According to the latest data available on Spain’s Transparency Portal, Spanish Members of Parliament receive on average a base salary of €3,050 gross per month for their parliamentary work, which doesn’t include earnings they receive for their other political work.
MPs also have the right to claim financial aid, exemptions and expenses for their parliamentary duties, and depending on the Spanish region for which they carry out their duties, they can claim additional compensation.
Therefore, Spanish MPs have gross annual salaries of between €55,803 and €70,143 for their parliamentary jobs, twice or almost three times as high as the average gross annual salary of workers in Spain, which in 2022 stands at around €24,000.
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