Bord Gais boss says he's worth €250,000 salary
BORD Gais chief executive John Mullins insisted yesterday he is worth his €250,000-plus a year semi-state salary.
Mr Mullins bluntly warned that if a cap is placed on the salaries of top semi-state executives, the Government may have difficulty in recruiting properly qualified people.
His comments came as he confirmed that Bord Gais will not disconnect any customers in payment arrears from their heating and fuel supplies until mid-January when the Arctic spell has hopefully ended.
"When I got the job apparently I was worth the money," he told the Irish Independent.
"The reality is that I enjoy my job -- but it is entirely a matter of public policy for the minister to set those particular salaries. I am not paid that much above the €250,000 at this particular point in time and that is an issue that is clearly going to get much more clarification over the next number of days."
There has been speculation the Budget will include measures to severely cut executive salaries in the semi-state sector but sources believe these will only apply to new appointees and not existing executives.
When asked about the level of salaries for senior semi-state executives, Mr Mullins said a number of factors had to be taken into account.
"All I can say to you is that I was made an offer when I came into the company three years ago. I have enjoyed my time here. If as a matter of public policy (someone) comes in and says, well, you are a company that is worth €2.2bn there is a price cap effectively on what you pay. At the end of the day when you look to replace me you fundamentally may have a problem in terms of getting the right qualifications.
"If it is the view that it should be capped at €250,000 -- and I'm not too sure if it is the package or whether it is the salary -- that is entirely a matter for Government. I was asked a question this morning as to whether I would do the job at €250,000 -- absolutely. I would."
ESB boss Padraig McManus earns almost €750,000 a year but it is still unclear how the government could bring in curbs on his salary.
Meanwhile, Mr Mullins pleaded with families in financial difficulties to contact Bord Gais so that measures can be taken to help them meet their bills.
In late October, the ESB, Bord Gais and Airtricity were disconnecting more than 80 households a day because of non-payment of bills. Fears had mounted that the current cold snap would wreck household fuel budgets due to massively increased heating demands -- and result in a near-doubling of disconnections nationwide.
However, Bord Gais last night confirmed it would not carry out any disconnections for a month. "We have offered pre-payment meters and you can then pay your bills over 18 months. At the end of the day, we are a semi-state company -- we are part of the country," Mr Mullins said.
"We understand exactly what the country is going through. We are offering these at no charge. We will swap them out and you can go pay-as-you-go."