The Ukrainian government has revealed the earnings of its top officials amid ongoing criticism over their relatively high salaries at a time when ordinary citizens still earn an average of around $400 a month.
In four months in office, the salaries of some members of the Cabinet have gone up manyfold. And before the winter holidays, many ministers received pay raises and bonuses worth thousands of dollars— more than what the majority of Ukrainians earn in a year.
Earlier, Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk said the pay raise to ministers will disincentivize high-level corruption and abuse of office.
But parliament has demanded that the prime minister explain the generous bonuses.
On Jan. 17, Honcharuk did come to parliament. But instead of answering questions from lawmakers, he announced his resignation in the wake of a different scandal.
In leaked audio recordings of his closed meeting or meetings, Honcharuk was allegedly heard remarking on President Volodymyr Zelensky’s poor understanding of how the economy works. To prove his loyalty to the president, Honcharuk handed to him a resignation letter but not to parliament as required by the Constitution. Zelensky rejected the resignation.
At their meeting on Jan. 17, Zelensky told Honcharuk to come up with a new scheme for top officials’ remuneration. He said the salaries of ministers have to be adequate but those who don’t want to work for the money offered by the government should leave.
“When your government improves the economy, you can raise salaries,” Zelensky said according to his press service.
Contrary to expectations, the head of the government is not the highest-paid official in Ukraine.
Honcharuk’s average monthly salary was Hr 60,479 ($2,490), and he received Hr 76,190 ($3,136) with pay increases and bonuses in December.
The highest earner was Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, one of the two holdovers from the previous cabinet.
From September to November, his monthly salary grew almost threefold: from under Hr 34,000 ($1,390) to Hr 97,623 ($4,000).
In December, he was paid even more: Hr 186,541 ($7,680) of which over Hr 137,000 ($5,640) were bonuses.
Avakov is closely followed by the minister for economy, trade, and agriculture, Timofiy Mylovanov, whose average monthly salary was $3,450.
He went from earning Hr 15,134 ($620) in September to almost Hr 80,000 ($3,290) in November. Before the holidays, he was paid Hr 222,592 ($9,160), two-thirds of which were bonuses.
Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko made $2,500 a month on average. However, he received a record high pay packet in December: Hr 233,893 ($9,630) with raises and bonuses.
Justice Minister Denys Malyuska made $3,110 a month on average. He received Hr 226,361 ($9,300) in December, most of which was bonuses.
It was reported that the Minister for Regional Development Alyona Babak submitted her letter of resignation a few days ago. The reasons are unclear but it is likely not for low pay.
Babak’s salary rose by four times from under Hr 19,000 ($770) to over Hr 82,000 ($3,380). In December, she received Hr 212,600 ($8,750) with bonuses.
Lowest-paid top officials
The lowest-paid official in the Ukrainian government was the Minister for Information Policy, Culture, and Youth Volodymyr Borodyansky. He took the office in September with a salary of an ordinary Ukrainian citizen: under $400. Despite a decent bonus at the year-end, he still earns the least.
Dmytro Dubilet, minister of the Cabinet of Ministers, was the only official whose salary was cut by three times. And, unlike the rest of his colleagues, he didn’t receive any bonuses before the holidays and received a meager Hr 17,544 ($720) in December.
Minister of Infrastructure Vladyslav Krykliy is also at the bottom of the list. His salary was cut by a few hundred dollars, and he received the smallest bonus of only Hr 8,000 ($330).
Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodnyuk and minister for the Donbas veterans Oksana Kolyada were paid under $1,000 a month apart from year-end bonuses.