A massive pay increase for the head of Northern Ireland’s jobs and investment agency has sparked outrage from Assembly members.
Chief executive of Invest NI Alistair Hamilton has been awarded an 18% salary boost rather than a performance-related cash bonus, according to senior sources.
The rise puts Mr Hamilton up from £160,000 a year to £185,000-£190,000.
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.
Patsy McGlone, chairman of the scrutiny committee, called for the decision to award the pay increase to be re-examined.
“It really is ridiculous and surreal that at a time when firms are going into administration left right and centre, and so many firms suffering lay-offs, that this can happen,” the SDLP MLA said.
“ Committee deputy chairman Phil Flanagan of Sinn Fein said: “Members of the public will be outraged that he was even being offered a bonus in relation to what Invest NI is achieving.
“There needs to be an inquiry into the remuneration being given to senior public servants, particularly here when all I hear from business people is concern over the performance of Invest NI.
“It comes at a time when most public servants are facing not only a pay freeze but threats to their pension entitlements.”
TUV MLA Jim Allister said: “It looks like a ploy to not pay the bonus and instead put it into his salary to avoid the embarrassment of the bonus but, of course, this has created its own embarrassment. I think it is appalling at a time of public austerity for a senior public servant to be gifted what amounts to just short of a 20% increase in salary.”
The latest increase comes 18 months after the Belfast Telegraph revealed Mr Hamilton was in line for a ‘performance’ pay bonus of more than £36,000. But in the prevailing economic climate, in which Invest NI was itself facing cutbacks, Mr Hamilton said he would not take the cash until a review of pay.