Bureaucrats earn more than Jens

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Some of Norway’s top bureaucrats, including those leading state departments subject to heavy criticism, have emerged with salaries higher than that of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Several have had double-digit pay hikes in the past two years, reports newspaper Aftenposten.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who also heads the Labour Party, earns NOK 1.26 million a year. PHOTO: SMK

Norway’s prime minister currently has an annual salary of NOK  1,268,400 (about USD 211,000). 

By comparison, the man in charge of what’s been described as Europe’s worst road system, state highway director Terje Moe Gustavsen, currently collects an annual salary of NOK 1,489,000. That’s up 22 percent from 2007, according to Aftenposten.

The directors of two other state departments that are routinely subjected to massive criticism also have received double-digit pay hikes since 2007. Tor Saglie, who leads welfare agency NAV, receives NOK 1,439,000 per year, while Elisabeth Enger, head of the state railroad (Jernbaneverket) is paid NOK 1,283,000 per year. The salary for that state post has risen 26.7 percent since 2007, reports Aftenposten.

“Here are people who have received gains without delivering,” Pål Arnesen, leader of the employees’ union YS stat, told Aftenposten. “There’s no connection between pay growth and performance, or who’s doing a good job and who isn’t. The system shouldn’t work like this.”

Norway’s top military officer, Forsvarssjef Harald Sunde, is paid NOK 1,354,000 (up 11.8 percent since 2007), while Health Director Bjørn Inge Larsen is paid NOK 1,352,000, up a relatively modest 5.3 percent since 2007.

The government minister in charge of state administration, Rigmor Aasrud, claims the pay system has developed in line with that in the society overall. She notes that a commission within the Parliament decides what politicians like herself and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg are paid, while pay for top bureaucrats is meant to reflect the amount of responsibility they have and be attractive.

She conceded that leaders of the state highway and welfare departments and the railroad “have been through very demanding” situations the past year, but said it would be “strange” if the head of the railroad, for example, should receive less pay because trains are delayed. “The railroad director can’t be held responsible for lack of maintenance” before her time, Aasrud said.

The heads of other often-criticized but more autonomous state agencies earn as much as twice that paid to the prime minister. The head of state railway NSB, for example, earns NOK 2.4 million and the postal service’s boss is paid NOK 2.7 million.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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