State utility officials avoiding salary upper limits, as seen at IPTO

The chief and deputy officials at power grid operator IPTO, forced to resign on Monday following an uproar caused by the disclosure of their exorbitant incomes, reaching over 20,000 euros per month, contended that their respective remuneration packages were perfectly legal during a meeting with the energy minister Giorgos Stathakis.

Theoretically, the claims made by IPTO’s just-departed chief executive Manolis Koroniotakis and his deputy Giannis Blanas are true as management-level contracts at the main power utility PPC and its subsidiaries, including IPTO, hail from a bygone era that precedes the country’s deep and prolonged recession and successive bailouts.

Management-level officials at these companies have managed to maneuver their way around recent upper limits imposed, usually through retroactive payments.

IPTO is currently undergoing a privatization process, its objective being to retain 51 percent for the Greek State. If, however, the Greek State ends up with a minority stake of IPTO, then the bailout-era salary upper limits imposed on state utilities will most probably be questioned, prompting officials to seek higher amounts, even retroactively.

If any prospective majority shareholder at IPTO refuses to keep existing officials on overpaid packages, then the operator could be challenged to offer severance pay based on older terms.