While the salaries of the President of Estonia, ministers and MPs are determined by law, the monthly wages of state agency directors depend more on each person's own negotiation skills, and some new agency directors can thus end up earning nearly twice as much as their predecessor.
"There are no set rules for determining the salaries of state agency directors," Eve Limbach-Pirn, director of the Top Civil Service Excellence Centre of the Government Office, told daily Postimees (link in Estonian). "Wages are determined in an effort to find a balance between demands and opportunities."
According to Limbach-Pirn, in determining the salary of a state agency dirctor, factors such as the size of the organization, the extent of liability, the difficulty of assigned tasks as well as the general salary level in a given field. She also noted that it is a fairly typical phenomenon that a new director will be hired with a higher salary than their predecessor, adding that it is more difficult for an existing employee than for a newcomer to demand a radical raise.
"So it happens that wages on the market increase and a newcomer will demand the salary being offered on the market," Limbach-Pirn explained. "The state has to find new directors for these positions, and wants the best possible candidates."
The Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu is currently handling a bill which will affect the salaries of higher civil servants such as the president, MPs, state prosecutors, among others. Committee chairman Marko Pomerants (IRL) finds that the establishment of such a system for state agency directors would be pointless.
"I believe that we are getting absurd, as there is no point in comparing everything that comes to mind," Pomerants said, adding that such a wage system would be very artificial, as it is impossible to fit the whole world into an Excel spreadsheet.
"As a former Minister of Social Affairs, I would not feel bad about the director of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund earning more than the Minister of Social Affairs, because to direct the fund in such a way that people receive the best possible medical care and there are no waiting lists is a difficult task," the committee chairman commented.
Editor: Aili Vahtla