It’s a strange country this. NAMA is supposedly an agency independent of the government – after all, we had that rigmarole in 2009 to get the NAMA debt off the nation’s balance sheet by swearing blind to Eurostat that NAMA was independent of government. And the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) is also independent of government, though government ministers have done a good job of stuffing the Central Bank board with their preferred nominees.
At the end of last year the Government wrote to the independent agency known as NAMA, asking that any member of staff earning in excess of €200,000 per annum take a 15% pay-cut or reduce their salary to €200,000 whichever was less. And all staff in NAMA eventually complied with the request, though NAMA’s former Head of Lending, Englishman Graham Emmett decided it was too great a sacrifice and he baled.
And what about the CBI? This week in the Oireachtas, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to confirm the number of CBI employees earning more than €200,000 per annum – straight answer: five – and whether, like with NAMA, there had been a request to reduce those salaries – straight answer: no. Min Noonan says that the CBI will provide “disclosure” on staff earning more than €200,000 though the latest 2011 Annual Report – see extract above – identifies just three, Governor Honohan, Deputy Governor and Financial Regulator Mathew Elderfield and new economist Stefan Gerlach. Who are the other two? We don’t know. But what we do know is that the Government is not seeking reductions. Having said that Governor Honohan has stepped up and waived a large portion of his salary, such that he know earns 40% less than his deputy, Mathew Elderfield.
The full parliamentary questions and response are shown below.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will quantify as of 31 December 2011 and as at 30 September 2012 the number of employees at the Central Bank of Ireland whose annual salary including non-discretionary payments in cash, is in excess of €200,000 per annum..
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance if a request has been made by him or his ministerial colleagues to the Central Bank of Ireland that any staff member earning in excess of €200,000 per annum inclusive of non-discretionary cash payments waive 15% of their salary or a sum to reduce their salary inclusive of non-discretionary cash payments to €200,000 whichever reduction is lesser; and if such a request was made, the date of the request; the number of employees whose annual salary including non-discretionary payments in cash was in excess of €200,000 per annum at that date; the number of employees who acceded to the waiver request and the number of employees who rejected the waiver request..
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: I propose to answer questions 143 and 144 together.
I have been informed by the Central Bank that as at both 31st December 2011 and 30th September 2012, the Central Bank of Ireland had five employees whose annual salary, including non-discretionary payments in cash, was in excess of €200,000 per annum.
Under the Central Bank Act 1942 and the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB), the Government has no role in the setting of terms and conditions of employment in the Central Bank. The Act and the Statute guarantee the independence of the Governor in carrying out his ESCB related functions and control over pay and conditions is seen as a necessary part of that independence.
Salary reductions and pension-related reductions were applied in the Central Bank under the provisions of the Financial Measures in the Public Interest Acts as was the case in the wider public service. Furthermore, my Department wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank in 2011 outlining the Government’s approach to pay levels to senior public servants, in particular those whose remuneration exceeds €200,000 per annum. It was suggested that the Central Bank would provide for disclosure where employees are in receipt of remuneration exceeding the €200,000 per annum threshold. The Governor responded positively saying that the Central Bank have greatly increased the amount of information regarding senior staff remuneration in recent years and sees advantage in continuing this trend and making disclosures in respect of all employees where total remuneration exceeds €200,000 per annum.
In that respect the Central Bank publishes information related to remuneration of executive and non executive directors in its annual report. In 2011 the Governor of the Central Bank waived €41,740 of his total remuneration for that year and has indicated that he will waive €63,324 of his total remuneration in 2012.