World leaders: Cheap at the price?
Which of the G20 leaders represents best value for money? Since such a close eye is being trained upon the remuneration of British politicians more generally, I thought it might be instructive to find out which of the presidents and prime ministers in London this afternoon gets the fattest pay cheque compared to the size of their countries and their economies.
So, the sum I have attempted is their salary divided by GDP per head of the country they lead.
Now, this is not an easy calculation. Not all countries are open about how much they pay their top politicians. I have no idea how much the king of Saudi Arabia gets for being prime minister. Nor, oddly, can I find any reference to the remuneration package that Silvio Berlusconi enjoys in Italy.
Information on Argentinean, Turkish and Indian political remuneration appears unavailable.
Many of the sources I have plundered are less than ideal but I hope you will forgive me for bashing on with this.
My results suggest that the Chinese President Hu Jintao is the "best" VFM (value for money) world leader with a salary equivalent to roughly four people's GDP contribution. His annual remuneration of just $10,500 was calculated from a reference on Chinese internet sites to a monthly salary of 6000 CNY.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks cheap at the price - his salary of $212,700 (265,166 Canadian dollars) is equivalent to just over five average Canadians contribution to the national wealth.
We then have three leaders with salaries equivalent to about six people's GDP contribution in their respective countries: our own Gordon Brown, President Medvedev of Russia and Australian Premier Kevin Rudd.
This would seem to suggest that the British get quite a reasonable deal when it comes to leadership pay but, of course, none of these figures include allowances or other perks.
Poorer and populous countries tend to have leaders with salaries many times the average contribution to GDP. It would take 53 Indonesians' contribution to their country's wealth to pay for the annual salary of Susilo Banbang Yudhoyono.
Do we think that a leader's pay should reflect the scale and responsibility of the office in terms of population and economy? Some analysts suggest nations would get poorer quality politicians if they sought office motivated by the pay cheque.
Perhaps it should be performance-related - salary dependent upon improvements in wealth or well-being. Let me know what you think.
GDP data source: Europa World
Salary data sources:
China - BBC China Service via Baidu
Canada - Public Works and Government Services Canada
United Kingdom - House of Commons Information Service [pdf link]
Russia - The Independent
Japan - The China Post
France - Financial Times, October 2007
Australia - Parliament of Australia Parliamentary Library [pdf link]
USA - University of Michigan Documents Center
Brazil - Correio Do Brasil
Germany - Financial Times, Oct 2007
South Korea - Korea.net
South Africa - News 24
Mexico - Washington Post
Indonesia - AFP