President’s Representatives Earn More than He Does Skip to content

President’s Representatives Earn More than He Does

The salary decrease which President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson asked for at the end of 2008 did not apply to his representatives. The PM, Speaker of Parliament and the President of the Supreme Court all accepted ISK 1.6 million (USD 14,000, EUR 10,000) each last year for having worked as representatives for the Presidential Office while he was abroad.


Bessastadir, the presidential residence. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

This discrepancy came to light when the office’s annual accounts were reviewed and the Presidential Office has now reported it, Fréttabladid reports.

In the summer of 2009, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir described the presidential representative payments as a remnant of 2007, referred to in Iceland as the year of excess, and suggested they be abolished.

A bill proposing the payments be cut by 80 percent was submitted at the Icelandic parliament, Althingi, in August 2009 but the committee it was allocated to has not worked on it any further.

Hrannar B. Arnarsson, Sigurdardóttir’s assistant, said she recently learned that the president’s salary had been lowered. The case was discussed at Althingi but the parliament didn’t believe it had the authority to lower the president’s salary mid-term.

“The president recently informed the prime minister that he had requested and been granted a decrease but that it did not apply to the representatives. Subsequently, Jóhanna requested a comparable lowering of her share,” Arnarsson explained.

However, as stated in Fréttabladid today, presidential secretary Örnólfur Thorsson accuses Arnarsson of misinformation in a letter sent to him yesterday, pointing out that the president himself requested and received a salary decrease in early 2009. The move was covered in the media and has been publicly known for two years.

Thorsson stated that it is also wrong that the president only recently informed the prime minister that the salary decrease did not apply to his representatives. He maintained that they could just as easily have had their salaries lowered.

Arnarsson rejected Thorsson’s accusations, saying it is absolutely clear that the prime minister only recently received this information.

He also pointed out that Sigurdardóttir hadn’t taken office in the beginning of 2009 and didn’t have the prerequisites to estimate whether the payments for the president’s representatives had dropped.

The PM recently criticized the high salaries of bankers.

Click here to read more about that story, here to read more about the prime minister’s salary and here to read about the salary of the president.

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