Politics 12/04/2021

Some twenty officials exceed the Catalan Government's salary limit

Cabinet members' salary freeze makes breach of 2014 law even more evident

Jordi Ribalaygue
3 min
Executive Council of the government of the Generalitat, last Tuesday.

BarcelonaSeven years ago the Generalitat established a maximum salary that it still does not impose on all its employees. CiU and ERC agreed on a new law while they were negotiating the budgets according to which top managers of the public sector could not earn more than the president and ministers. Even so, the Government has maintained salaries that, year after year, contravene the guideline that appears in a 2014 law and which establishes that the full annual fixed perceptions of senior staff "in no case may be higher than those set for the position of Minister”.

Not only has the Generalitat not been diligent in adhering to its rule, but it has also been deviating from its goal: in 2019 there were five executives with a remuneration that exceeded that of the members of the Government; since 2020 there are 22 senior officials and managers who earn more than the €115,517.04 per year paid to Ministers, according to the transparency portal of the Generalitat.

The number of senior management staff that exceeds the limit has grown due to the 2% salary increase that the State decreed for public workers a year ago. In April last year, the Generalitat decided to pay the increase also to senior officials, but at the same time opted not to extend it to the president and the ministers in the middle of the pandemic. The combination of the improvement in the remuneration of senior officials and the freezing of the allocation for members of the executive council has altered the salary table of the Generalitat. Five senior officials of the department for the Presidency, five more of the Corporació Catalana de Mitjans Audiovisuals (CCMA), three managers of hospital consortia, a director of a research institute and three executives of entities dependent on Territory have overtaken the heads of the departments. They are added to a manager in Agriculture, two in Health and two more in Territory that already obtained better incomes that the ministers.

The budget law of 2020 authorised the rise for the directors foreseeing that it had to be applied "respecting the retributive limit" and, therefore, staying below ministers' pay. However, the upward revision has meant that positions that had been subjected to salary moderation to meet the bar again exceed it.

The salary associated with the presidency of the CCMA has fallen by about 30,000 euros from 144,477 euros in 2015 - more than what Artur Mas then charged - but the 2% increase has caused the acting president to receive €1,327.75 per year more than the limit. The update of the incomes of the directors of Tv3 and Catalunya Ràdio and two more directors has also caused them to earn €521.85 more than ministers. The Corporació answers that the retributions come guaranteed by the Generalitat and that it will agree to lower them if the Government orders it. The departments of Health and Territory will reduce salaries that are over the limit.

A "management error"

The Health Department admits that the directors of four public health entities have perceived the increase even though they were not entitled to it, due to the Generalitat's limit. The Department does not give names, but agrees that the managing directors of the hospital consortiums of Parc Taulí in Sabadell, Terrassa, Maresme and Sant Pau in Barcelona are between €749.92 and €2,421.68 over the limit. The Department says it is due to a "management error" and explains that it is proceeding to some "regularisations of assets" so that they adjust to the rule again. On the other hand, Territori will take back the salary increase for directors of the Autoritat del Transport Metropolità and the Institut Cartogràfic i Geològic de Catalunya.

Another case are the higher salaries than those of the councillors but which are protected by law. The Heads of the research centres are exempt from the maximum salary restriction, as is the case of the directors of the Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentària and the foundation of the Vall d'Hebron hospital. A provision introduced in the budgets since 2017 shields the salaries outside the norm of the president of Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (117,826.80 euros) and the general director of the company (147,754.56 euros). In addition, in 2020 the salary table of senior officials was modified to regularize the 2% increase with which the secretary of the Government and four other members of Presidency -the general secretary, the director of the legal office, the director of the Institut d'Estudis de l'Autogovern and the commissioner of the presidency for the deployment of the Self-Government- have been paid 117,452.94 euros, which is more than the ministers. This has not been the case for the last six years.

Since 2014 a decree detailing the remuneration ladders of managers is pending. The law requires that, once it is enacted, all salaries are adapted in three months. The fact that it is not yet in force means that there are still contracts that break the salary limit, such as those of the director of the Agència de Residus and the manager of the Consorci Mar Parc Salut, who have occupied the posts since 2011, before the measure was introduced. The Government has a draft regulation, but shields itself in the complexity of regulating more than 200 public entities and the end of the last term to justify that it has not yet been approved.