The Finance Ministry said Wednesday that the average annual salary for the staff at 304 state-controlled firms came to 67 million won ($63,800) in 2013, up 1.7 percent or 1.13 million won from the previous year.
Heads of the public firms were paid 163 million won on average, up 0.8 percent from a year earlier, it added.
“The salary level stays above the average at firms such as the Korea Exchange, the Korea Securities Depository and the Korea Development Bank,” an official said. “Considering the upper-ceiling guideline of 2.8 percent growth, set by the government, the growth of 1.7 percent and 0.8 percent is not high.”
Further, he predicted that the 2014 salary for the public firms will be lowered compared to 2013, stressing that policymakers has stepped up to improve their financial status by slashing wages for executives and weed out irregularities.
Meanwhile, debt owed by the 304 firms exceeded 500 trillion won for the first time last year, renewing concerns over the financial soundness of the public sector.
According to the data provided by government information portal Alio, the combined debt of 304 public organizations reached 523.2 trillion won last year, up 25.2 trillion from a year earlier.
The increase is, however, slower than in 2012, when their debt grew by 37.2 trillion won from a year earlier.
Their debt ratio stood at 216.1 percent, which was also lower than the previous year’s 219.6 percent. The fall is due to their assets growing faster than their debt holdings.
Land and housing developer LH Corp. saw its debt increase by 4.2 trillion won on-year to 142.3 trillion won, the largest among public organizations. Korea Electric Power Corp.’s debt came to 104 trillion won, up 9 trillion won from a year earlier.
The data came amid intensifying government efforts to tackle public-sector debt.
By Kim Yon-se and news reports