PM urges 'shame file' for overpaid execs

12th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

12 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende believes that business executives with exorbitant salaries at a time of economic struggle in the Netherlands should be subjected to "naming and shaming".

12 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende believes that business executives with exorbitant salaries at a time of economic struggle in the Netherlands should be subjected to "naming and shaming".

He said self-enrichment by executives is "harmful for economic development". Referring to the wage moderation deal between the government, unions and employers, Balkenende said high salaries for executives cannot be easily defended to the public.

Speaking a party meeting in Franeker in Friesland, the Christian Democrat CDA leader dismissed demands from Labour PvdA leader Wouter Bos to personally remind the bosses of public energy companies Nuon and Essent of their responsibilities.

Balkenende said if he spoke with every business leader with an exorbitant salary, he would never find time to actually govern the country.

Instead, he said it would be better if Bos urged PvdA party members to join a CDA initiative designed and help end self-enrichment via municipal councils and provincial governments.

Controversy erupted recently when reports emerged that the chiefs of Essent and Nuon earned EUR 821,000 and EUR 815,000 respectively last year. Both energy companies are owned by Dutch provinces and municipal councils.

The parliamentary leaders of the three largest political parties in the Netherlands, the CDA, Liberal VVD and PvdA are strongly opposed to the exorbitant salaries.

Besides "naming and shaming", Balkenende also proposed taking fiscal measures to discourage self-enrichment. Preferably, however, he would prefer that shareholders and the Employees Council try to reign in the bonus system.

This would apply in the first instance to the public sector, such as healthcare, education and energy. But Balkenende hopes that pension funds and employers association VNO-NCW will also urge commercial enterprises to moderate executive wages.

Balkenende also indicated that the "shareholder position" of the government in certain companies might be adjusted in future. Municipal councils and provincial governments could then exert greater influence to reduce the salaries of public company executives.

The prime minister said tackling self-enrichment was a priority of a "new solidarity" to protect workers aged in their 30s, low-income earners or single-income families.

Balkenende said economic growth of 3 percent is necessary in coming years to maintain prosperity, but measures had to be taken now to protect the socio-economic position of the Netherlands.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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