TAOISEACH Brian Cowen is hitting the international headlines as Europe’s highest paid politician.
The story is doing the rounds of several European, American and Asian media and the blogosphere, complete with a picture of Mr Cowen licking his lips.
It quotes the Irish man as earning a cool €257,000 a year, making him not just the highest paid EU leader but the fourth highest leading politician in the world.
However, the figures are based on his salary before taking a second pay cut in December’s budget, which brought his annual pay to €228,466.
And in fact if the pay increases recommended by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Service in the heady days of 2007 had been implemented, he would be earning €310,000 bringing him to within €800 a year of what the US president earns.
But having taken a 10% pay cut in October 2008 and another 11% this year, Mr Cowen has lost his top spot in the ranking of EU leaders and now falls behind the French president, the German chancellor and the British prime minister.
Similarly, he falls from fourth to ninth place in the world ranking of top-paid politicians.
The list, as originally published on a Singapore website dedicated to getting unemployed Singaporians jobs, and in US dollars with approximate euro value, is as follows: Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister, Singapore, annual salary €2.13 million; Donald Tsang, chief executive, Hong Kong, salary €400,500; Barack Obama, president, United States, salary €310,800; Brian Cowen, Taoiseach, Ireland, salary €257,079; Nicolas Sarkozy, president, France, salary €248,517; Kevin Rudd, prime minister, Australia, salary €245,392; Stephen Harper, prime minister, Canada, salary €240,800; Jacob Zuma, president, South Africa, salary €237,687; Angela Merkel, chancellor, Germany, salary €236,132; Gordon Brown (now David Cameron), prime minister, Britain, salary €233,483.
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