Big discrepancies in high-rank salaries

It’s an American expression that has become global: If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys. In Greece, however, it applies only to the competitive segment of the economy. The first person I heard use the expression during the many discussions I had before writing this article was a hardworking, efficient manager. A day later, a high-ranking executive at a leading bank used the same words to explain why he had changed jobs. Two days after that, another bank official justified his decision: «It’s a sure way for a good executive in our field to increase his income. And in recent years there have been many opportunities due to the intense competition among us.» It’s easy to see what’s happened. In recent years, the private sector has had its revenge on the state sector. The salaries of high-ranking and top-level executives have risen far above those of their counterparts in the state sector. Only theirs, however; the salaries of the many thousands of employees have not taken the same upward turn, except at the few enterprises that had healthy profits and good management. The state sector pays low- to middle-ranking public servants well, but not those at higher levels. The subject comes up every time we hear that some government-controlled company is giving bonuses and increases to high-ranking staff. The latest example was the Public Power Corporation when PPC’s president gave a 10 percent raise to its general managers, whose salaries are around 200,000 euros a year. That’s a lot, some say. But the administration points at the competition, now that the energy market is booming, where the top staff get salaries in the region of half a million euros a year. «Only PPC has good staff in the energy sector,» said analysts at the Hay Group employment consultancy. It makes sense, in context. The president of Greece earns no more than 400,000 euros, while the prime minister gets just over 100,000 euros. The president of the Supreme Court, the highest paid state official, gets no more than 80,000 euros. But such comparisons don’t help. Competition is the deciding factor, and competition has broken all bounds.