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Dutch bankers get big pay rises to bypass bonus limits
[THE HAGUE] The Dutch government on Friday slammed huge pay rises for senior bankers to offset a 2012 law curbing bonuses, saying it sent "the wrong signal" while ordinary citizens are still hit by austerity.
"For me and many others it sticks in the throat," said Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who also chairs the Eurogroup of finance ministers who implement the eurozone's tough austerity measures.
"It sends the wrong signal. Banks are currently recovering and there's talk of restructuring and lay-offs. It's hard to understand," Mr Dijsselbloem said.
Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher also weighed in, saying pay increases, particularly at ABN Amro, NN Group and ING sent "an odd signal when many people are anxious about their jobs and have had no, or hardly any, pay rises for years." ING said on Thursday that its executive director would earn 1.63 million euros (S$2.42 million) up from 1.27 million a year ago, with other top ING employees seeing similar hikes.
The bank, which in November finished paying back a 10-billion-euro state bail-out dating from the financial crisis, said "the pay of ING directors remains well below the average" in the sector.
ABN Amro, which hopes to float later this year after being nationalised during the crisis, on Friday raised its directors' salaries by 17 per cent, to 707,500 euros.
Amid widespread unhappiness at the banks' roles in the global financial crisis the Netherlands in 2012 passed a law limiting bonuses to 20 per cent of salaries.