Competition Authority denies salary rise report by weekly newspaper “SOL”

Following the publication on 28 August 2009 of an article in the weekly newspaper “SOL”, under the title “CA salaries rise 14% with the appointment of Manuel Sebastião”, and of an accompanying table allegedly showing CA staff salaries in March 2008 and December 2008, the CA considers it fitting to provide the following clarification:

  1. The salary rises mentioned in the article published in the weekly newspaper “SOL” do not represent the truth.
  2. In spite of quoting an official CA source, according to which “during the current mandate of the Council, there has been no change in the CA's salary policy and there is no procedure in progress”, the weekly newspaper “SOL” preferred to draft an article on the basis of incomplete information that gives rise to erroneous interpretations that can justify supposed conclusions that distort the facts. In fact, the supposed “salary sheets” to which the newspaper “SOL” claims to have had access, which, in addition, disclose two CA workers' names, in clear breach of the principle of the protection of private life and institutional secrecy, cannot and should not be read without considering the real reasons for the variations in salary.
  3. When the CA was contacted for the preparation of an earlier article in the “SOL”, the newspaper as informed of the reasons for some of the salary variations referred to below. Accordingly, it could not have been unaware of the distortion that it projects in the article published now. Consequently, this distortion by the weekly newspaper “SOL” can only be considered intentional, in a deliberate attempt to transmit a negative image of the CA.
  4. When setting staff remuneration, the current CA Council complies with the stipulations laid down when the Authority was established. In the same way, the emoluments of the present Council members are exactly the same as those received by the former Council.
  5. In 2008, the sole updating of salaries in the CA was a 2.1% rise that complied with what the government approved for public service workers; there was no pay scale related promotion for any member of staff.
  6. Beside this salary revision, in 2008 there were three alterations for which the current Council was responsible. They were as follows: (a) salary adjustments where senior members of staff were appointed to perform managerial functions; (b) an increase, according to the law, in the exemption from set working hours, for managers, from 1 to 2 hours; and (c) substitution of the payment of non-authorised overtime hours, according to the law, with exemption from set working hours, on a regular basis, for a limited number of staff-members. These were justified in terms of the Internal Regulations approved in the meantime.
  7. In 2008, seven vacant managerial positions were filled, by an equal number of specialists. These appointments were necessary to operationalise the CA's new organisational structure, approved in the meantime, specifically under conditions that guarantee the effective substitutability of managers, in case of need.
  8. The table published by the “SOL”, which, itself, presents an alleged overall increase of 10% in salary costs between March 2008 and December 2008 (in contrast to the 14% mentioned in the headline to the article) deserves the following clarification:
    • 8 situations refer, in fact, to salary rises approved in 2008 by the former CA Council, which only took effect in April this year; these situations include those identified with salary rises referred to in the table published of 69%, 24%, 16%, 14% and 6%;
    • 7 individual situations, resulting from repayments to staff members of regular salary monies, which had been deducted beforehand for reasons of sickness and were returned to them at the end of the year (in one of these situations, there is also the value of overtime hours, authorised on an occasional basis, in accordance with the law); these situations include alleged increases mentioned in the table published of 141%, 12% and 10%;
    • 5 situations in which the value of the salary in March is incorrect and in which alleged increases of 111%, 73%, 48%, 73%, 8% and 5% are mentioned;
    • 1 individual situation of an alleged increase of 29%, which, in reality, corresponds to the settlement of meal allowances that had not been paid before;
    • 1 situation, among others, of an alleged increase of 6%, that, in reality, corresponds to the payment of health expenses, in accordance with the ADSE (public-service health plan) tables;
    • 1 situation settling the CA admission grant, which, in the meantime, was never paid, though it is referred to in the table as an increase of 82%;
    • 1 unidentified situation of an alleged increase of 6%;
    • 1 duplicated situation, relating to an increase of 21%;
    • The 4 situations referring to managers relate to the grant of an additional hour's exemption from the work schedule, under the terms of the approved Regulations mentioned above;
    • The 6 remaining situations, referred to as an increase of 22%, result from the attribution of an hour's exemption from the work schedule, in connection with the said process of appointing 7 deputy managers, under the terms of the approved Regulations mentioned above.
  9. It is also important to note that, in the comparisons made by the weekly newspaper “SOL” for March and December 2008, meal allowances were deducted from the figures for March, while the opposite happened for the figures for December. This is reflected in a general and artificial rise of 2%.
  10. To facilitate scrutiny of its management, as soon as the present Council took office, it took the decision to divide the 2008 management accounts into two periods: the first ran from 1 January to 24 March 2008, the date on which the former Council's term of office ended, and the second, from 25 March to 31 December 2008. It is thus possible to ascertain that the 2008 personnel costs totalled EUR 6.251.597, that is, EUR 1.475.837 (23.6%) between 1 January and 24 March 2008, the date on which the former Council's term of office ended, and EUR 4.775.760 (76.4%) between 25 March and 31 December 2008. Considering that holiday allowances are paid in June and Christmas allowances in November, it can be seen that average monthly personnel costs were EUR 491.945.67 between January and March 2008 and EUR 434.160.00 between April and December 2008.
  11. In addition, in accordance with the CA's management accounts, it is possible to ascertain that personnel costs for 2007 amounted to EUR 5.610.040, which reflects average monthly personnel costs of EUR 400.717.14. A comparison of this figure with the monthly average for January to March 2008 reflects an increase of 22.8%; a comparison with the average for April to December 2008 reflects an increase of 8.4%.
  12. As a whole, the personnel costs for 2007 and 2008 show an increase of 11.4%, of which 2.1% corresponded to the updating of salaries and 9.3% to the adjustments mentioned above.
  13. Supposing that it is true that the “SOL” had access to CA salary sheets, as the article states, it is clear that the documents will have been supplied to it by someone who, having had access to them for professional reasons, must have breached the professional obligation of secrecy incumbent upon him or her regarding internal Authority documents, irrespective of whether the culprit is or is not still in the service of the CA.
  14. Consequently, the article printed in the weekly newspaper “SOL” on 28 August 2009 raises the possibility that a staff-member has committed the crime of breaching the secrecy rules, which is provided for and punished by Article 383 (1) of the Penal Code. Under point (3) of the same article, the Authority will, accordingly, inform the Public Prosecutor's Office of the crime, to discover where the responsibility lies for the leakage of CA information.

            (Nº: 15/2009)