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Hollande helps to correct imbalance

President Hollande’s election has been widely welcomed in this country on the basis that he is for growth and not just austerity.

At the top in France, however, he is setting a very good example of more austerity.

The first symbolic decision of his new cabinet was to cut ministerial salaries by 30% to €9,940 per month, which roughly equates to a reduction from about €170,000 a year to €119,000 before tax. Since French ministers have to give up their parliamentary seats on appointment, their income is not doubled up by a parliamentary salary. Both the last government and the present Government here have significantly cut back top salaries and other perquisites as well as numbers at the higher levels, but the question is, does more need to be done? What is the case, other than legal/contractual, for any class of public official, elected or not, outside the commercial state sector, and other perhaps than the President, Taoiseach and the chief justice, to be paid more than a French cabinet minister today?

One of the reasons Chancellor Merkel insists on structural reforms and austerity is German awareness that, in some bailout countries, senior public officials and higher professionals paid substantial sums out of state coffers still earn more, sometimes a lot more, than their equivalents in core and more healthy eurozone countries. Passing the stability treaty will mean continuing pressure to correct such imbalances. Would that be such a bad thing?

Martin Mansergh

Friarsfield House



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