Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Ex-Prime Ministers Society

Just in case you were worried about how former Spanish prime ministers were coping with the economic crisis, I can assure you that they are not doing too badly. Hot on the heels of the announcement that Felipe Gonzalez had got a nice part time job with Gas Natural we've now found out that José Maria Aznar has got one too with Endesa. Both men will be very well rewarded for whatever it is that they have to do, although it seems that Aznar has cut the better deal to add to his other business activities.

It helps to explain why everyone else in the country has just been handed a 10% increase in their electricity bills. The industry minister Miguel Sebastian explained that the increase was the equivalent of a cup of coffee, which suggests he doesn't pop down to his corner bar very often. He seems to drink coffee as much as his boss. Now Aznar was in power when the privatization of Endesa was completed, but we won't hear any of that left-wing nonsense about conflicts of interest if you don't mind.

Aznar's administration was also the author of the law that explains much of the increase in electricity prices. The 'deficit tarifario' was a device that allowed the PP to hold down electricity price increases by introducing legislation promising that the companies would be fully compensated in the future. By another government. As someone recently observed, this is like farting in a lift and leaving the consequences for the next person who enters.

Today I read that both Aznar and Gonzalez receive a guaranteed €80,000 a year from the Spanish state. Given that they are earning so much money elsewhere, surely there is a case here for a bit of means testing? Especially as they both like to give lectures on the value of financial prudence. Let's say that those former leaders who choose to dedicate their time to earning money based on their former position learn to do without any contribution from the state, given the tough times in which other pensioners live. That will leave some money for those who dedicate their retirement to good works.

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