It is one thing when a teacher who works a lifetime in school for “pennies,” complains about a small salary. It is another matter when a minister with a salary 4.5 times higher than that of a teacher complains about it. Well, it is good enough that the head of Ukrposhta with a salary of $78,000 (1.8 million uah) has not started to complain about small income.
There was a tragic comedy before in the USSR, which is familiar to many viewers and, as was often the case with films of those years, it is often cited by people. One such quote is the name of the movie itself – “Say a Word for the Poor Hussar” – when many ordinary people could not associate the word “poverty” with the shiny and therefore expensive appearance of hussars, with their image of all-time revelers and heartbreakers.
In the same way, Ukrainians perceive complaints by Ukraine’s MPs and government ministers about their low salaries, which are not enough for a decent living. However, for some reason, the complainants do not specify that these salaries are not enough for life in the circles where these MPs and ministers exist.
January became the month of another aggravation of such “misunderstanding” between the society and its “servants”:
- salaries of the heads of state-owned companies became known to the society - salary of the chairman of Ukrposhta of over $78,000 caused an uproar;
- over 40 officials in the Cabinet of Ministers were paid more than 4,000 dollars a month;
- another trigger was information on the increase of salaries of the MPs to 4,000 dollars, however, the speaker of the parliament Davyd Arakhamia assured that it was fake and “servants of the people” were receiving an average of 1,500-1,600 dollars.
In the end, President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded that Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, with his salary of $2,500, limits the salaries and bonuses of officials and top management of state-owned companies that have become quite “indecent.”
Of course, it does not matter whether you are a minister or a regular teacher - we are all human beings, and everyone needs to spend money to meet requirements of the existing civilized society, not to mention capitalism.
Obviously, with this purpose - to show that she was not only a woman but also an “official is a person,” the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Anna Novosad said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine agency that her current salary was not enough for her to become a mother.
“Now my salary on average is 1,500 dollars and it is 400 dollars less than I had as head of the Directorate of the Ministry of Education. It is enough to live normally. I have my own housing, an official car, but no time to go to the cinema. But if you ask me if it suits me as a young person who has to think about her future, about saving for retirement, then it is definitely not enough. At some point I want to have a baby, but for such salary, I won't be able to support it, and I'm not ready to engage in a situation where someone will be taking care of me, I have to have a competitive salary myself,” the minister said.
It would seem it is a very human desire to have confidence in tomorrow, to have a family, children, in short, “an official is a person.” Then why did such a statement of the minister provoke outrage among Ukrainians?
1) The salary of the Minister of Education Anna Novosad in December 2019 was not $1,500, but $5,700? (to be fair, it should be noted that in September-November her salary did not really exceed $1,500, but on average during these months, taking into account the bonuses, Novosad received about $2,500 a month.
2) 1,500 dollars, which are “insufficient” for living in the capital with a child, is about 3.37 of average monthly salaries in Ukraine ($440 in November according to the State Statistics Service) or 2.25 of average monthly salaries ($658), not to mention that it is 7.62 of minimum wages ($195). Then how do all those Kyiv residents with the city average of 618 dollars survive?
3) According to the State Statistics Service, the average salary in the sphere of education amounted to $333 in the 3rd quarter of 2019, which is 4.45 times less than the salary of the Minister of Education (many Ukrainian teachers have their own children), or 2.26 times less than the average wages in the public administration ($654).
4) “Ridiculous” salary of the minister is still more than 1,177 dollars of aviation workers, the highest-paid sector of the country's economy.
5) Minister in 2018 has managed to buy a car Toyota Yaris of 2016, estimated in the e-declaration of only 1,030 dollars, although the cost of this car of 2016 on the Internet costs on average 12,350 dollars. (It turns out that $1,500 of minister’s salary is not so little – to be able to buy a whole car of a prestigious brand).
6) According to the State Statistics Service, Ukrainians spend 49% of their expenses on food, alcohol and tobacco, another 5% on clothing and footwear, 11.6% - on utility services bills, 10% - on transportation costs, 5.5% - on health. In short, when 80% of the expenses are just daily expenses, no one can be sure of their future, so the minister can feel the same thoughts that torment most of her fellow citizens.
Separately, we can talk about spending on a child, about which the minister also knows well and that caused her to complain:
- childbirth in a private hospital of over 2,060 dollars or alternatively a public hospital in which it is desirable to pay “for good childbirth” to everyone, from nurses to doctors.
- clothes, baby food and the problem with all young children are diapers, all in all you are given 412 dollars at once and 35 dollars each month for the next 3 years, and if it is a single mother, then 80 dollars for children under 6 years old. And this money is sometimes “delayed.”
- problems with finding a job, because according to the new Labor Code, a mother can be fired 70 days or more before childbirth, that is, after 5-6 months of pregnancy, and the norm about keeping a workplace during maternity leave for 3 years is also absent.
We can play more with figures and comparisons and describe personal impressions since every resident of Ukraine has a rich personal experience of monthly budget planning. Nevertheless, all ordinary Ukrainians ARE SURVIVING in conditions created by the authorities. And the minister, who has probably not ever experiences real money problems, complains that 1,500 dollars are not enough for her to live a month.
For example, the author of these lines has no children, but each month has to spend over 410 dollars, which is the average salary in the country. However, unlike a minister who has her own housing, he has to pay rent, fortunately, not in Kyiv. And it is fine, still alive.
It seems that many in this country would agree to swap places with Novosad. It is a pity that the number of vacancies in the Cabinet is limited.
P.S. By no means do I envy the minister, moreover, I support an opinion that officials of this level should receive more. At the same time, I am opposed to such whining, which considering the incomes of ordinary citizens seems particularly cynical.