One of the common criticisms directed at NAMA concerns the pay and perks of its staff. With average salaries of €100-110,000 a year, they’re not exactly being pauperised even if there was upset at NAMA HQ in February this year when bonuses for 2011 were cancelled. But a common perception is that NAMA employees, who have a maximum lifespan of eight years with a scheduled termination of the Agency in 2020, are receiving very generous pension benefits. Not so, according to a parliamentary question last week, and indeed NAMA staff seem to be getting far less than some in the private sector. NAMA appears to be contributing approximately 11% of gross salary to its pension scheme, and in addition, NAMA staff are required to pay the public sector pension levy*
Last week in the Dail, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan for the cost of pension provisions at the Agency in 2011 and the estimate for 2012 – the full exchange is shown below. On the basis of NAMA having 220 staff in 2012 and an average gross salary of €105,000, the €2.5m estimate provided by Minister Noonan cost works out at 10.8% of gross salary.
How does the 10.8% NAMA contribution compare with the private sector? It will vary of course, but on Saturday last, the Irish Independent carried a feature on pay and perks in Ireland’s unions. In fact it only had the current salaries of three union leaders, the other five were from 2009 or were estimates or ranges. And in five additional cases, the unions refused to provide responses, and it seems the Indo forgot completely about the NUJ, UCATT, GRA, AHCPS, ESBOA, MLSA, TSSA, VI, POA or the AGSI. But the Indo did establish that Larry Broderick at the Irish Bank Officials’ Association earns €132,455 and is provided with a defined pension benefit contribution of €46,359 or 35% of his salary.
The NTMA which is NAMA’s parent organisation says in its annual report that it contributes an overall total of 25% of gross salaries to the NTMA pension scheme, but that is higher than NAMA’s 11% because presumably, the NTMA is guaranteeing the final salaries of members which was common until 2008-2010, whereas NAMA’s new employees recruited in 2010 and later will presumably be provided with pensions reflecting average career salaries.
So, not as gold-plated as you might have thought.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance the total cost of pension provisions for employees at the National Asset Management Agency in the 12 months ending December 2011; and the estimate of pension provisions at NAMA in the 12 months ending December 2012.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: I am advised by NAMA that the total cost of pension provisions for NAMA staff in the 12 months ending December 2011 was €1.8m, as disclosed in note 36 of NAMA’s 2011 audited financial statements [NWL comment: see extract of note 36 below].
All NAMA staff are employed by the NTMA and the cost of pension provision represents the employer contributions made by the NTMA to the NTMA Pension Scheme on behalf of staff assigned to NAMA. NAMA estimates that employer contributions for the 12 months ending December 2012 will be €2.5m. All NAMA staff are subject to the public sector pension levy.
* 3% on a salary of €15,000
5% on €25,000
6.4% on €35,000
7.2% on €45,000
7.7% on €55,000
8.1% on €65,000
8.5% on €85,000
8.8% on €100,000
9.2% on €150,000
9.4% on €200,000
9.6% on €300,000.