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Invest NI chief sees his salary rise by £30k

It's a bargain, claims quango as basic wage goes up but bonus cut

By David Elliott

The head of Northern Ireland's economic development agency has been awarded a hike in his basic salary of nearly £30,000, but had to pass up a potential bonus of £48,000 a year.

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton will see his annual salary jump to a flat rate of between £185,000-£190,000 with no bonus. He currently gets a basic salary of £160,000 and is awarded up to 30% as a "performance-related payment", a pay packet which can be worth £208,000.

Last year the board of Invest NI awarded Mr Hamilton a £36,000 bonus for 2011 but it's understood by The Belfast Telegraph that the chief executive has turned down two previous bonuses for the financial years 2010 and 2009 pending the outcome of the Department of Finance and Personnel's (DFP) independent Review of Northern Ireland Senior Civil Service Pay.

The exact amount of Mr Hamilton's bonus award in each of the 2009 and 2010 financial years is not known but it's thought to be similar to the £36,000 in 2011.

Following the review of senior civil service pay DFP has done away with bonuses for all senior civil servants, favouring instead higher basic salaries.

"(All) non-consolidated performance-related bonuses will be permanently removed from the SCS remuneration arrangements," the report said.

Under the terms of his new pay packet the chief executive won't be able to claim for any backdated bonuses that have been previously awarded. Those bonuses were performance-related and not guaranteed but despite that Invest NI said the new pay packet represents a pay cut.

"In line with the principles of the Review, the remuneration package has been adjusted and the Chief Executive has voluntarily accepted a reduction in his total remuneration package of some 9% per year and the removal of any current or future performance related pay entitlement," it said in a statement. There is no additional cost to the public purse as a result of the revised remuneration package of the CEO."

The hike will be raised when Mr Hamilton and his senior officials appear before the Stormont committee which monitors the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry (DETI) on Thursday.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, chairman of the scrutiny committee, said the decision should be reconsidered.

"He can't be held accountable for the state of the economy but at a time when everyone is taking a hit and everyone is having to make cutbacks I would say they should reconsider this decision."

But compared to a comparable rate in the private sector Mr Hamilton's pay packet, both old and new, may be a little shy, especially given his previous role as a managing director at BT.

"Someone with such a strong commercial background going in to a public sector organisation where the key focus is on selling Northern Ireland and bringing in employment would command a salary of £200,000 a year plus, especially given scrutiny that he's under day and daily," Joanne McAuley, of Clarendon Executive said.


Rise in basic salary of Invest Northern Ireland's Alastair Hamilton


Invest Northern Ireland's boss's basic salary


Maximum package under the 30% bonus plan


The amount of bonus he received in the year 2011 9%

The reduction in his total salary he has accepted

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From Belfast Telegraph