Germany and France pay their public sectors less than the private sector averages with no ostensible ill effects on efficiency and delivery of government services.Job security in both countries is considered an attractive feature of public sector employment,although high costs of redundancies make it very hard to sack private sector workers.In contrast,even after austerity cuts Ireland pays the public sector (civil service,teachers,gardai,HSE and hospitals) about 50% more than the private sector average but delivers far fewer free services,notably in health care.If this pay is unjustifiably high,obviously that takes from money that should be available for services.
In Finance's budget forecast,2012 pay was estimated at 19 billion,which is 15% of estimated gross national income of 131 billion. If this pay was cut to roughly the same level as the private sector's,the figure would be 12.7 billion,a cut of 6.3 billion in arguably unnecessary pay. The pay bill is 15% of national income and the arguably unnecessary portion is 5%. That 6.3 billion would go a long way to reducing the national deficit.
The experience of Germany and France argues for the pay cuts. But there are some arguments for high pay in certain areas:
-There is very strong evidence that the best teachers are about four times as productive as average teachers,in achieving literacy and numeracy for example. So high teacher pay,provided a high proportion is in peer reviewed bonuses (about to be introduced in England),is definitely justified.
-In Singapore,arguably the world's most efficient government (though with an unpleasant authoritarian streak),top civil servants and government ministers are paid as much as top corporate executives. Their responsibility for running large organisations in the main departments of government such as Finance,Health,Social Welfare,Education,Justice,Defence and Foreign Relations is used to justify high pay.In Ireland,such pay would not be justified in other departments that are PR fluffery.Many would object to such high pay for politicians on the basis that high incomes would distance them from the economic realities of people's lives.
-Given the high level of incompetence reported in the press about low paid police forces in the UK and the US,high pay for the Garda Siochana seems justified.Modern police need to be better educated than a generation ago to deal with complex court cases and be able to use advanced IT systems.The latter is a weak area in the Garda because of the custom of appointing gardai to IT management jobs instead of civilians.