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The salaries of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the 29 other ministers in his cabinet will be cut by 5% starting August 1, the Knesset Finance Committee decided yesterday. The cut will remain in force through the end of 2010.

The cabinet members decided to cut their own salaries back on June 7, but as TheMarker revealed last week, no action was taken to implement the cut until the end of last week - and it will go into effect only at the end of the month.

The cut will save taxpayers about NIS 1 million over this year and next.

Cabinet ministers make NIS 36,920 gross a month for now, which will be reduced by NIS 1,675 to NIS 35,245 a month. This is actually only about a 4.5% cut, as the cut will not apply to the ministers' entire salary or other benefits.

For example, NIS 3,420 of ministers' monthly wages is considered a cost-of-living allowance, and is not included in the 5% calculation.

The cut will affect the wages of the state comptroller and the governor of the Bank of Israel, as their salaries are linked to ministers' salaries.

Netanyahu's salary will decrease from NIS 41,055 a month to NIS 39,173.

Deputy ministers' wages will not be cut, as they are linked to MKs' salaries. However, the committee decided that if MKs decide to lower their own wages, it will also apply to deputy ministers.

In such a case, the cut would also affect ministry director generals and their deputies, whose wages are also linked to those of Knesset members.

MK Uri Ariel (National Union) proposed the committee also ask that President Shimon Peres and judges agree to the 5% cut. Ariel also wants to cut the salaries of MKs, though some say such a move requires the recommendation of the public committee on MKs' employment terms, headed by Prof. Reuven Gronau, as well as the approval of the Knesset House Committee.

Ariel demanded that the committee be convened to discuss the matter.

MK Haim Oron (New Movement-Meretz) said there is a difference between elected officials such as the prime minister, ministers and MKS; and judges and other civil servants.

Oron said that the 5% cut for elected officials is not enough and that taxes should be raised for everyone making more than NIS 25,000 a month. He recommended doing so through emergency legislation for a two-year period.

Oron also asked the Knesset Presidium to require the House Committee to meet and cut MKs' salaries.