Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said on Kuku raadio the €6,900 basic monthly salary of the new head of the Education and Youth Board is out of proportion to other public sector salaries.
Responding to a critical question from several listeners, Ratas said it must be kept in mind that salaries in leading positions in the private sector are the same amount if not higher.
"But if we compare it with the public sector, then the salary is out of proportion. But when top managers of the private sector come to work in the public sector, their salary demands are higher. This is real life," the prime minister said on Wednesday.
He added he had also discussed the matter with the Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center).
Earlier this week Ulla Ilisson, who has previously worked at management positions in Swedbank, was named the head of the board.
Ratas said Ilisson had been selected by a committee of senior civil servants at the State Chancellery and that it must be taken into account this was Ilisson's salary requirement.
ERR reported on Tuesday that Ilisson's salary was set by the Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps and that Ilisson did not move directly from Swedbank as she left last December.
However, Ratas acknowledged that the general principle should be that the public sector should not drive wage competition and that private sector wages should be slightly ahead.
Ilisson's salary is higher than the highest salaries of civil servants disclosed by the Ministry of Finance.
As of April 1, Villem Lapimaa, President of the Tallinn Circuit Court, earned the highest salary at €6,745 euros, followed by Ratas and Villu Kõve, President of the Supreme Court, who both earn €6,661 per month.
Editor: Helen Wright