Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

The Governor of the Central Bank has offered to give up his salary

February 28th, 2012

Both left and right wing commentators accuse the Governor of Hungary’s Central Bank of waiting too long before making a conciliatory gesture, in a fierce debate with the government over his income.

On Friday, the Governor of Hungary’s central bank (NBH) offered to give his  monthly to a charitable cause, with retroactive effect (from September 2010, when his salary was cut by three quarters, until the end of his mandate in March 2013). He suggested the money should go to support gifted but disadvantaged students of economics. András Simor made the offer in a bid to dismantle a barrier that prevents Hungary from starting formal negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. They insist that Hungary rescind a law which sets  the ceiling of monthly allowances for public sector employees at 2 million forints – a quarter of Mr Simor’s salary up to that point. In his communique, Mr Simor added that his fight had been for the independence of his institution, not for the money.

His offer was made on condition that Parliament restore what he called “the legal state of affairs” in regulating the salary of leading central bank officials.

In a front page editorial, Népszabadság believes that András Simor’s offer constitutes an overture in the long-running dispute between the central bank and the government. “The Governor should have made this gesture 18 months ago after the implementation of the salary cap, but instead he entered a bruising dispute [with PM Viktor Orbán]” – writes the left wing daily.

Although according to EU norms he was right, András Simor (with a personal fortune of 1.5 bn HUF) appeared as another avid financier in the public eye – notes Népszabadság. The paper criticises the Governor for investing all his efforts on  becoming a worthy opponent of Viktor Orbán.  ”By now, the Governor of the Central Bank must have realised that he left his flank too open for too long” – Népszabadság concludes.

In Heti Válasz, Attila Michnai also criticises Mr Simor for taking almost two years to offer a way out of a debate marred largely by character assassination. Michnai fails to understand, he writes, what the Governor was waiting for. “It’s a pity that you let your image be destroyed,” writes the moderate conservative weekly.

Michnai finds it absurd that the Governor’s original salary was several times higher than both the PM’s and the President’s, and double what the Chairman of the Federal Reserve earns. He asks András Simor to encourage his colleagues at the Central Bank and follow his example, in the event that the old rules are indeed restored, as their allowances are related to his own salary.

Tags: , ,