Ex-ministers paid during job search

Bookmark and Share

Former Oil & Energy Minister Ole Borten Moe has become the latest member of Norway’s defeated left-center government to find a new job after continuing to be paid full salary for three months. In Moe’s case, he even secured the state severance pay on top of substantial subsidies for his family’s farm in Trøndelag, and now he’s staying on the state’s payroll.

Ola Borten Moe, who was in charge of Norway's vast offshore and energy industries during his years as oil minister, has landed a new job with a state-owned business development firm. Like other fellow ministers, he's been able to keep collecting his ministerial salary while looking for work. PHOTO: Olje- og energi departementet

Ola Borten Moe, who was in charge of Norway’s vast offshore and energy industries during his years as oil minister, has landed a new job with a state-owned business development firm. Like other fellow ministers, he’s been able to keep collecting his ministerial salary while looking for work. PHOTO: Olje- og energi departementet

Some of the top politicians who led Norway’s former government could move over to full-time jobs as Members of Parliament, including former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of the Labour Party and his colleague Jonas Gahr Støre, the former long-serving minister for health and, earlier, foreign affairs. Both have confirmed that they’ve received other job offers, also abroad, but wanted to continue in parliament.

Their other Labour Party colleague who served as finance minister, Sigbjørn Johnsen, could return to his secure job as county governor in Hedmark, but still received a month’s severance pay (NOK 99,589, or roughly USD 16,000). So did all the ministers who had no parliamentary seat waiting for them, regardless of whether they already had another job, like Johnsen.

Moe of the Center Party, meanwhile, was among those applying for extended severance pay while they looked for new work. Former ministers are eligible for up to three months of gross salary (NOK 298,768) and Moe told newspaper Dagsavisen recently that he felt he was entitled to it. Moe argued that even though the family farm at Leinstrand in Trøndelag is in full operation and generating income (it reportedly received more than NOK 300,000 in state subsidy last year), he couldn’t claim adequate income from it because it’s run as a stock-held company with his brother.

“I haven’t worked (on the farm) very much, I’ve been in Oslo, and now the season is over,” Moe told Dagsavisen. “I must have income.” On Thursday came news that he now landed a new job as a director in SIVA, a state-owned company aimed at contributing towards business development nationwide. Moe will be responsible for innovation and research, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

Former Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen also stepped down as head of the Socialist Left party (SV), and now will be chairman of a state museum. PHOTO: SV

Former Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen also stepped down as head of the Socialist Left party (SV), and now will be chairman of a state museum. PHOTO: SV

Former Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen also recently landed a new job, as chairman of the state Museum of Natural History, which is part of the University of Oslo. She also had applied for the three-months worth of salary in severance pay and will begin in her new post in January.

Several politicians who lost either their seats in parliament or government posts have moved over to the PR branch, with some PR firms actively recruiting them for their networks and political insight. At the ministerial level, though, several veteran politicians are apparently still looking for work.

They include the former government minister in charge of family and inclusion issues Inga Marte Thorkildsen of the Socialist Left party (SV). She told newspaper Aftenposten last month that she initially intended to “clean the house, work out and sleep” while collecting her severance pay and looking for new work.

Former Labour Party ministers with no seat in parliament and no firm plans included Espen Barth Eide (foreign affairs), Grete Faremo (justice), Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen (defense) and the chief of staff for Stoltenberg, Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen. News that the left side of Norwegian politics is getting its own “think tank” called Agenda raises speculation that one or more of them may be called upon to lead it or get involved. Otherwise, Strøm-Erichsen has said she’s open for board memberships, and Schjøtt-Pedersen told Aftenposten he’s interested in something within business.

Faremo said she planned to take some time off “for a period” while Eide sent a brief text message back in October: “No clear plans.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund