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Public sector excess swamped by private greed

Public sector managers have become, like other elements of Italy’s political-bureaucratic ‘casta’, a target of public anger at a time when jobs are being slashed, wages frozen and living costs soaring.   

Take Antonio Manganelli, head of the police, on Euros 621,000 a year, compared to an average income in the country of Euros 1,286.

Manganelli, like other top statali rightly faces a pay cut as prime minister Mario Monti imposes a public sector wage cap of (a still ridiculously damn generous) Euros 294,000

But incomes for public managers are actually quite modest compared those in the private sector.

Carlo Cimbri, CEO of Unipol, earned Euros 1.53 million in 2010. And that put him at a mere 100th place in the pay rankings for the bank.

Corrado Passera, now a minister in the Government, earned Euros 3.5 million at another bank before joining Monti’s government of technocrats. This ranked him just 20th place on Intesa Sanpaolo’s rich list.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, President of luxury carmaker Ferrari, and until April 2010 also President of automotive giant Fiat, took home Euros 8.7 million in 2010.

By the way, these are the same banks that recently took Euros 110 million in free money (well, 1% interest rate) from the European Central Bank (thus Eurozone taxpayers), to lend it back to EU member states or otherwise speculate with it at a huge profit. And this is the same Fiat that has received billions in various forms of legal aid from the Italian government over the years, and, since the state hand-outs dried up has been shutting its Italian plants down, derecognising unions and threatening to leave the country altogether.

Top dog in 2010 was Cesare Geronzi who at the time was presiding over financial giants Generali and Mediobanca. After resigning from Generali, he was presented with a nice little package of Euros 16.67 million.

Executives are also handsomely paid at firms that have been privatised, but in which the government maintains a minority stake, like energy giants like Eni, Enel and Saipem, and engineering colossus Finmeccanica.

Fulvio Conti, CEO of Enel, took home Euros 4.9 million and Paolo Scaroni at Eni Euros 4.4 million. Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, former presidente and CEO of Finmeccanica, pocketed Euros 4.4 milion and in December had a golden goodbye of a further Euros 4 million.

Of course, the main excuse politicians give for offering gold-plated pay packages for top managers in the public sector is the stratospheric rewards provided to executives by the private sector.

It is debatable how many really good public sector managers will just jump ship simply because they can grab more from capitalist employers. But some clearly will.

In which case, the lesson must be that if Mr Monti really wants a more efficient and better run public sector while controlling its costs, he can’t just limit himself to capping incomes at the upper echelons of public bodies. He’s got to introduce a bit of rigore into the board rooms of the private sector too.

La Repubblica 

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Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email [email protected]


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