IRELAND - Public sector pensions now account for almost 10% of the government's total pay and pensions bill, according to the Irish Department of Finance's latest report.
Overall, the pensions bill alone has increased from €1.1bn (US$1.4bn) in 2003 to over €1.8bn in 2008, representing a 66.6% increase over the period, while pay in contrast rose by 45.4%.
By the end of this year, the net pay and pensions is expected to amount to just under €19bn, an increase of 6.9%.
And estimates show that figure would top €20bn in 2009.
The report also revealed public service numbers - including pensioners - increased to almost 370,000, a rise of 150,000 since last year.
It said: "The increases in the first benchmarking report reflected the acute tightness of market conditions around the 1999/2001 period which saw a substantial number of private sector firms concluding pay deals significantly in excess of the standard terms of the national agreements then applicable.
"The second report, published in December 2007, concluded that when account is taken of the more valuable pension arrangements in the public service relative to private sector arrangements (the superior value was assessed as 12% of salary) the vast majority of grades in the public service have not fallen behind private sector rates."
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