Lenihan shelves promised review of semi-state chiefs’ pay

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan quietly shelved a review of the pay of semi-state bosses despite the fact that some of them enjoy packages worth €500,000 a year.

Last December, Mr Lenihan announced he would bring proposals to Cabinet “at an early date” to review the pay arrangements for the chief executives.

The announcement came amid mounting anger over the fact that the semi-state bosses were escaping mandatory pay cuts while the lowest-paid public servants were hit with a 5% salary reduction in the budget.

But the Department of Finance has now confirmed that the review was put on the long finger — meaning there is no immediate prospect of the chief executives’ pay being cut.

“The minister informed the Government that he was considering doing a review of the pay of semi-state chief executives.

“He informed the Government that he would not be doing it immediately due to department work pressures and priorities but he would reconsider the review in the coming months,” a spokesman for Mr Lenihan told the Irish Examiner.

“In the interim, the minister asked the department to review the likely time-scale of new appointments to these posts. The matter is due for reconsideration in the coming weeks.”

The reference to “new appointments” is understood to indicate the difficulties envisaged by the department in changing existing contracts.

It could mean Mr Lenihan will either have to wait until such contracts are up for renewal to renegotiate salaries downwards, or simply opt to reduce the pay of future appointees rather than target existing chief executives.

Pay for semi-state bosses varies, but several earn more than the Taoiseach, who is paid €228,466 a year.

The chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority, Declan Collier, earned €568,100 last year, according to the company’s annual report.

This consisted of salary of €320,400, with the remainder made up of pension contributions, bonuses and other benefits. The DAA noted in its report that Mr Collier’s contract stipulated a salary of €350,566, but that he had taken a voluntary reduction to €320,400.

The chief executive of An Post, Donal Connell, earned a total of €500,000 last year, according to its annual report, which noted that Mr Connell forfeited a bonus in 2009.

Semi-state employees were exempted from the public service pay cuts because the companies operate on a commercial basis without day-to-day interference by the Government.


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