Shelving semi-state pay review ‘wrong signal’, says FF TD

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan’s decision to shelve a review of semi-state bosses’ pay sends out “the wrong signal”, a Fianna Fáil TD has said.

Michael McGrath, vice-chair of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, said chief executive pay in the commercial semi-state sector was “excessive” and needed to be cut.

He was responding to yesterday’s Irish Examiner report which revealed that Mr Lenihan had not proceeded with a promised review, despite the fact that some semi-state bosses enjoy packages worth €500,000 a year.

Mr McGrath, who raised the issue in the Dáil earlier this year, said the last review of chief executive pay was conducted in 2007, and that Ireland “is a very different place now”.

“I think chief executive pay across the commercial semi-state sector is excessive, and not reviewing it now does send out the wrong signal, at a time when public servants on €30,000 a year have seen their salaries cut by 5%,” he said.

“I do think that the Government should proceed and bring the chief executives’ pay in line with more realistic levels.”

Fine Gael, meanwhile, said Mr Lenihan’s “U-turn” proved that the Government targeted the vulnerable instead of the wealthy.

“Fianna Fáil and the Greens cut the pay of low-paid public servants by 5%, cut child benefit by 10% and cut social welfare benefits paid to the unemployed, disabled, blind and sick,” said Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar.

“However, senior civil servants and senior executives in the public service and state agencies were given a reprieve. Now it seems the semi-state bosses are getting the same special treatment.

“Everyone accepts that cuts to pay and benefits were necessary, but it had to be done in a way that was fair and be seen to be fair.

“Once again, Fianna Fáil has demonstrated that it has no interest in fairness when it comes to making hard decisions,” the FG TD said.

Mr Lenihan announced last December that he would bring proposals to cabinet “at an early date” to review the pay arrangements for the chief executives.

But the Department of Finance confirmed to the Irish Examiner last week that the review was put on the long finger – meaning there is no immediate prospect of their pay being cut.

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

Chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority, Declan Collier, earned a total package of €568,100 last year, including a salary of €320,400, with the remainder made up of pension contributions and other benefits.

An Post chief executive Donal Connell earned a total package of €500,000 last year, comprising salary of €386,000, pension contributions and other benefits.


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