Each of the Hungarian National Bank’s six managing directors receives a gross monthly salary of HUF 4.95 million (USD 18,000), or roughly twenty times the average gross monthly salary according to independent RTL Klub last week. This means that each managing director earns nearly as much in a day as what a typical Hungarian earns in a month (HUF 248,000/USD 900).
In addition to their basic salary, each director receives a monthly stipend of HUF 500,000 for meals, which works out to roughly HUF 23,000 (USD 83) per workday (certainly more than enough to dine at Budapest’s finest dining establishments-ed.)
As the managing director responsible for human resources, Polt-Palásthy reports directly to central bank governor György “Mad Cap” Matolcsy. Prior to her “promotion” at the end of last year, the chief prosecutor’s wife worked as the director of human resources at roughly half her current salary. It is not clear what additional responsibilities she assumed at the time of her promotion to warrant paying her twice Matolcsy’s monthly gross salary (HUF 2.37 million/USD 8,600) and four times what her husband reportedly earns each month (HUF 1.6 million/USD 5,800).
Hungary’s chief prosecutor, Péter Polt, and wife have good reason to smile
Together, Mr. and Mrs. Péter Polt earn HUF 78.6 million (USD 286,000) a year at a total cost to Hungarian taxpayers of well over HUF 120 million (USD 436,000) after factoring in employer payroll contributions.
According to Együtt (Together) politician Levente Pápa, it often happens that the spouses or partners of government officials get jobs at other state institutions.
In 2010 PPrime Minister Viktor Orban introduced a limit on state salaries of HUF 2 million. However, this law was revoked in 2012 after successfully purging most socialist government appointees from the Hungarian civil service.
When asked by RTL Klub what warranted so dramatic an increase in central bank salaries from 2013 on, the government information center responded that “growth makes it possible for the central bank, which is independent from the government, to pay its directors in a manner comparable to those working in this field in other V-4 countries.”
(Such assertions are maddeningly difficult to verify. We seriously doubt that central bank employees earn as much in Poland and Slovakia and would be surprised to learn that they earn as much in the Czech Republic-ed.)
György “Mad Cap” Matolcsy was given the keys to the central bank in March 2012
When Matolcsy took the helm in March 2012, the average salary was HUF 657,000. This increased to HUF 728,000 by the end of 2013 and reached HUF 870,000 in March 2015, reports nol.hu. Central bank directors presently earn between HUF 2.25 million (USD 8,200) and HUF 3.375 million (USD 12,300) monthly. Department heads make between HUF 1.5 million (USD 4,500) and HUF 1.8 million (USD 6,500) monthly. Administrators reportedly make HUF 480,000 (USD 1,750) on average.
NOL.hu notes that the bank’s total payroll has nearly doubled since 2010, due both to an increase in the number of people employed as well as a 20 percent increase in salaries. At HUF 1,031 million (USD 3.75 million) the central bank’s total payroll is nearly three times what it was when Matolcsy assumed the helm in March 2012. At that time the total central bank payroll, including “wage supplements” and “cafeteria allowances”, came to HUF 387.7 million (USD 170,000). Nol.hu reports that by the time Matolcsy had been central bank governor for nine months the total payroll had ballooned to HUF 793.8 million (USD 2.8 million).
Part of this was to do with a significant increase in the number of people employed. According to the MNB website, the number increased from 605 to 1088 during the fourth quarter of 2013. This was primarily due to the central bank assuming the functions of the State Financial Organizations Supervisory Agency. By the end of 2014 the total number of MNB employees reached 1272, for a total monthly payroll cost of HUF 1,031 million (USD 3.75 million).
Interestingly, total payroll increased HUF 40 million (USD 145,000) the first quarter of this year despite the number of employees decreasing from 1272 to 1238.
Deputy bank governors hard at work
Central bank managing directors and directors are not the only ones singing all the way to the bank. The three deputy central bank governors are also doing well, in some cases supplementing their “meagre” salary by holding other positions within the bank or serving as directors of various state and private companies.
Deputy central bank governor Ádám Balog presently makes HUF 4.8 million a month, of which his bank salary constitutes HUF 1.9 million. He earns an additional HUF 2.9 million as a director of the Hungarian Mint, the Diósgyőr Paper Factory and the MNB’s own foundation, the so-called Pallasz Athené Foundation.
Central Bank governor György Matolcsy also reportedly receives a monthly “honorarium” of HUF 1.18 million (USD 4,300) a month from the same foundation.
The other two deputy governors, Ferenc Gerhardt and László Windisch, each receive a gross monthly salary of HUF 1.66 million (USD 6,000). Each earns an additional HUF 1.2 million (USD 4,400) monthly for other positions they hold within the bank.