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NEWS | Sunday, 27 January 2008

Cassola waves ‘addio’ to his hefty pension

With the likelihood of losing his seat in the Italian parliament now imminent, the Maltese MP in the Italian parliament Arnold Cassola is risking missing out on the glamorous pension former Italian politicians are known for earning.
Italy’s prime minister Romano Prodi lost a vote of confidence in the senate, after the resignation of his justice minister Clemente Mastella, cost Prodi his wafer-thin majority.
Mastella’s move first led to the loss of Unione’s majority in the Italian senate, after retiring his alliance from the Unione governing coalition, and ultimately in Prodi’s defeat by a confidence vote he faced last Friday.
And it could mean the end of Cassola’s handsome pension.
“The answer is simple,” Cassola told MaltaToday. “In a worst-case scenario I would get no pension for having been an Italian MP. One has to pay contributions for five full years in order to get the pension at the age of 65.”
Once Italian MPs are of eligible age, they are entitled to a pension equivalent to 25% to 60% of their stipend, according to the number of terms pursued in office.
Currently, the gross basic salary for Italian MPs – known to be the world’s highest – stands at €5,486.58 monthly. The law also provides for refund entitlements for parliamentarians’ lodging, public relations, transport, travel, telephony and health services. Refunds could add up to staggering amounts to the tune of €9,500 monthly.
Cassola claims Italy’s political crisis doesn’t carry serious implications to his political career. “As I had said when I was elected to the Italian parliament nearly two years ago, I would remain active in Maltese politics,” he told MaltaToday.
In fact, Cassola will be contesting the general elections in Malta on the Alternattiva Demokratika ticket. “If I am elected with AD, I will give up my post in the Italian parliament,” he said, adding he would certainly retain his seat in the Maltese parliament if he is re-elected in Italy.
“If the Italian Greens or Romano Prodi ask me to be part of their electoral list because my name could help to attract some extra votes for the whole list, I will gladly accept. However, if elected in Italy, I would give up the seat in Italy to the next person on the list,” he added.


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