Saturday 18 November 2017

Somers breaks pension record

Former NTMA chief highest-paid public-sector pensioner in history

HIGHLY-PAID: Mr Somers earned €1m in 2008.
HIGHLY-PAID: Mr Somers earned €1m in 2008.

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter Exclusive

The former boss of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) Michael Somers retired with a pension package in excess of €1.1m in the first year and will receive an annual pension of more than €265,000 for the rest of his life -- making him the highest-paid public sector pensioner in the history of the State.

Mr Somers, who retired from the NTMA in November 2009 and earned €1m in salary and bonuses in 2008 from the taxpayer, confirmed the details of his pension to this newspaper yesterday.

Speaking at his Dublin home, Mr Somers confirmed that he had received a lump sum of €842,000 which equates to one-and-a-half times his final salary, and will receive an annual pension of more than €265,000 for the rest of his life.

"In terms of the lump sum, and the rest of my pension, I got what I was legally entitled to," he said yesterday.

"They got a good deal from me, I didn't get added years or any severance payout, as many others got or will get, so in effect I was working on a half-salary," he said.

The Sunday Independent confirmed that Mr Somers transferred his generous pension from the civil service to the NTMA's own pension scheme when he became the first chief executive of the agency in 1990.

He did not start a second pension, but his own one was greatly enhanced as his NTMA salary increased to €565,000 in 2008.

The Sunday Independent also confirmed that he did not receive any pension payments prior to his leaving office, despite working past the age of 65 and given the fact that he had worked in the public sector for 48 years.

Mr Somers' pension payout is in line with public-sector norms.

Last month, Mr Somers' 2008 salary and bonuses were revealed following a lengthy battle to kept them confidential. It emerged that, in 2008, Mr Somers received €565,000 in salary and a bonus of €403,000.

A week later, Mr Somers' successor, John Corrigan, revealed his salary of €490,000 and a potential bonus worth up to 80 per cent of salary.

Details of Mr Corrigan's pension are not known but he remains outside the NTMA's pension scheme for staff and according to its annual report, he has negotiated his own individual pension package with the company.

Mr Somers's confirmation of his pension yesterday makes him the runaway leader in terms of public-sector pensioners.

Last week it emerged that one retired employee of the Central Bank is receiving a pension of more than €205,000-per-year and three other retired personnel from the Central Bank are receiving pensions of more than €155,000 per year.

Two weeks ago, it emerged that 10 people are receiving pensions of more than €135,000 from the Office of the Paymaster General, which makes pension payments to retired civil servants and former office holders such as ministers and judges.

The Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has now signalled that the remuneration package for the NTMA head would in future be published annually.

"In line with the recommendation in the code of practice for the governance of State bodies that State bodies publish the salary of the chief executive officer in their annual report, it is the chief executive's intention to publish details of his remuneration in future NTMA annual reports," Mr Lenihan said.

Such revelations will make uncomfortable reading for the Government ahead of the forthcoming Budget in December, which is seeking to take €4.3bn out of public spending.

Mr Lenihan is faced with the reality that tax revenues are back at the level they were at seven years ago, yet the public-sector pay and pensions bill has risen by €16bn in the meantime.

Sunday Independent

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