State's hands tied when it comes to NTMA wages
Despite calls for a reduction in costs at the agency, the Government cannot legally alter contracts
Published 26/08/2011 | 05:00
Salaries at the NTMA and related agencies are unlikely to be reduced in the near future despite the Public Expenditure Minister, Brendan Howlin, insisting on such changes.
While Mr Howlin has written a letter to Michael Noonan calling for reductions in pay at the NTMA, the Irish Independent understands staff there have personal contracts that cannot be legally altered by the minister.
In addition, a statement last night from the Department of Finance stated that Mr Noonan wanted several months to study in detail the pay scales and rates at the NTMA before making any decision.
"The Minister for Finance will then see what changes, if any, might be appropriate in relation to the remuneration of all staff in the NTMA,'' said a department spokesman.
Mr Noonan would consult Mr Howlin's department, he added.
While the government has a role in setting the pay of John Corrigan, the head of the NTMA, it is understood middle management at the agency have individual contracts with no clause allowing the government to alter the agreements.
It is open, however, to the government to call on these people to reduce their pay.
Mr Howlin has written a letter to Mr Noonan that stated staff at the NTMA, the Central Bank and NAMA should be covered under recent caps brought in on semi-state pay.
NTMA staff were in the main recruited from the private sector.
Many of them are paid salaries akin to those paid in banking.
Referring to a letter that has passed between Mr Howlin and Mr Noonan, a spokesman for Mr Noonan said: "Ministers Howlin and Noonan have set out the contents of Minister Howlin's letter at a number of press conferences, including the publication of the NTMA annual report in July.''
The NTMA declined to comment. The agency is under fire over pay in part because Ireland is no longer in the bond market and many outside observers believe the agency should be forced to slash its costs.
It is understood that of the 357 staff at the NTMA, only 12 were involved in raising sovereign debt for Ireland.
NTMA figures showed that the remainder of the staff work for the State Claims Agency, the National Pensions Reserve Fund, the National Development Finance Agency, NAMA and the banking unit set up by previous Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.
This unit will shortly transfer to the Department of Finance once again.
The NTMA also manages money in An Post savings accounts and operates the dormant accounts scheme.