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Tuesday, 6 November 2007

172 per cent timing

Ah the skill of great timing. An ability made greater still by the paltry PRESIDENTIAL pay rise Nicolas Sarkozy has allowed parliament to rubber stamp. 172 per cent!

So instead of having to struggle to make ends meet on a meagre €101,000 a year he’ll now pocket more than €240,000 a year or around €19,000 per month.

Of course his aides, and indeed the man himself, have been claiming that it’s all being done in a spirit “transparency” as previous French presidents’ real incomes were somewhat obscured within the mysteries of the total “Elysée Palace” budget.

The pay hike will bring Sarkozy’s salary into line with most of the other European heads of government – with a bit extra of course, because he is after all also head of state.

And a quick trip around some parts of the continent reveals he was certainly in line for an increase.

Britain’s prime minister, Gordon Brown, bags the sterling equivalent of €22,000 each month, and Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel earns just under €18,000. Even Italy’s prime minister, Romano Prodi, brings home €16,000 worth of monthly bacon, although admittedly three-quarters of that is his chunk as an elected member of parliament.

But most importantly perhaps, it has adjusted the imbalance between the Top Job and the minions – an anomaly of the French political system, which has meant that until now the President has “officially” earned far less than his prime minister and many of the cabinet.

So, for some a raise is long overdue. Or is it? Many are asking whether the timing isn’t just a tad “off” with transport workers fighting to maintain their pensions deals and civil servants threatening to take (in)action.

Something of a stock phrase during the first six months of Sarkozy’s “reign” as France’s ever-present President has been the all-too-often repeated mantra “work more to earn more”. It’s at the heart of his philosophy, quite literally, to get France working. He has encouraged belt-tightening and undertaken to reward overtime in an effort to kick-start the country’s economy and breathe new life into people’s personal wealth.

One of his first measures of course was to slash inheritance tax in a move designed to benefit the already reasonably well off. Proof no doubt thought that he was living up to his electoral promise to raise living standards.

Well from €9,000 to €19,000 per month, at least Sarkozy’s standards will certainly have been raised, and clearly evidence that this hyperactive president holds true to his core conviction that pay should be linked to productivity.

The timing though of a pay rise for a man who has adamantly refused to increase the minimum wage in a country where half the population earns less than €1,500 per month has been slightly less than perfect.

1 comment:

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