I move amendment No. 27:
In page 14, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following subsection:
“(3) The pay reductions in this Act shall apply to all bodies in receipt of state subventions, subsidies and transfers including those in the Schedule to the Act of 2009.”.
I welcome the Minister to the House. It is frequently stated in the House that where the chief executives of bodies in receipt of State subvention or subsidies earn more than the Taoiseach, they should at least be liable to have their salary reduced to the level of the Taoiseach's salary, which I understand is €180,000. There are advocacy bodies and so forth which have extremely highly paid chief executives. It would not be out of line, given all that the Minister has said about the cutting of the pay of nurses, teachers and so on, if the Minister were to prescribe formally in the Bill or as a rule of thumb that we cannot pay chief executives more than the Taoiseach and that some penalty must apply to the staff of such bodies whose pay exceeds €65,000.
The Minister amended the Schedule to remove two bodies from the principal Act of 2009. While I support this change, I wonder how some of the bodies in question were included in the legislation in the first instance. Perhaps he will consider removing some of them from the list.
On the section relating to chief executives, the review of the assets and liabilities of State bodies examined the pay of some of the chief executives of these bodies. Some of those who have been deemed to be exempted from the legislation, unlike nurses and teachers, include the chief executives of the Dublin Airport Authority, Bord Gáis Éireann, Bord na Móna, Coillte, the ESB, EirGrid, Dublin Port, Irish Aviation Authority, An Post and Raidió Teilifís Éireann, who earn €560,000, €394,000, €231,000, €417,000, €753,00, €407,000, €317,000, €324,000, €500,000 and €326,000, respectively. These are remarkable figures, all of which are earned by individuals in the public sector. They are more remarkable given the reduction in salary taken by the Taoiseach and Ministers.
Average pay in the State bodies is also high. It is €51,700 at the State airports, which is 58% more than the average private sector income to which the Minister referred. In Bord Gáis Éireann, average pay is €77,200, while average pay at Bord na Móna, at €46,900, is the only case where it is lower than the public sector average. Average pay at Córas Iompair Éireann, Coillte, the ESB, EirGrid, the Dublin Harbour Board, the Irish Aviation Authority, An Post and Raidió Teilifís Éireann is €54,000, €63,700, €94,300, €96,700, €110,600, €120,300, €49,200 and €65,600, respectively. Should those employed in these bodies not be treated the same as those who earn more than €65,000 elsewhere in the public sector?
The Minister stated that the average salary in the public sector is €46,000 and the reductions will be applied to salaries well in excess of the average.
Given those numbers, there must be many people who have been paid increments and increases under the Schedule 1 exemption. Some of the others are even stranger. As far as I can see, although it is an independent body commercially - I believe that was the purpose of Schedule 1 when the late Minister, Brian Lenihan, introduced it - between 2001 and 2010 Horse Racing Ireland received €538.7 million in transfers from a levy, which is a form of taxation, for which I am sure the Minister could have found alternative uses. In the same period Bord na gCon received €135 million. It appears those bodies are commercial for the purpose of Schedule 1 but they know where the Minister is when they are seeking €530 million or €135 million. In the case of CIE, for some years it has received up to €800 million in subsidies. That suggests that those on the list should participate in the adjustments for which I voted earlier. Some very strange exemptions have occurred. The Irish National Stud lost €4.7 million in the year in which that committee reported and over the decade it lost €1.8 million per year, but again, it knows the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister for Finance will pay up. Is that body in the public sector? With regard to the exemption of ESB, our electricity costs are higher than anywhere else and are always above UK costs in international surveys. The airport exemption is amazing. There was a reduction, as the report notes, of 25% in the number of passengers going through the three airports in the years to 2010, but a 2% reduction in staff, so although there was a huge reduction in productivity, the staff were being paid increases and were not subject to the levies. What the report says is that we must regulate those bodies much more harshly and on a more commercial basis. In fact, in the case of the airports, the former Minister, Mr. Noel Dempsey, exempted them from regulation and gave them a 41% increase, which precipitated the 25% reduction. We need proper regulation by the energy regulator, as our gas prices are also high.
With regard to the exemption of these extremely highly paid people in the public sector under that Schedule, I support the Minister in his removal of two of the bodies, but the inclusion of some of the bodies appears to me anomalous. By exempting them the Minister increases the cost base of the economy, and he may find them knocking at his door seeking a subsidy to pay the increases that they get by being exempt under Schedule 1. When we have asked for such a contribution and sacrifice, some of these factors might be examined. I say this as a supporter of the Bill. For how long more should Schedule 1 remain in place? I compliment him on the removal of two bodies, but in general, we should not have a situation in which bodies whose members are earning more than the Taoiseach are coming to the Minister seeking assistance, subsidies, subventions or funding.