Senior staff at the Bank of Israel accounted for the top 14 most highly paid public servants, with only four of the top 25 salaries held by employees of other public-sector bodies, the Wage Supervisor's Office 2004 annual report revealed Monday. At the top of the list, the central bank's chief regulator earned NIS 97,856.12 monthly in 2004, before taxes. Coming in second, the Bank of Israel's chief programmer earned NIS 96,963.74 monthly. In response, the Bank of Israel noted that the data included redeemed vacation days that had built up in each workers' career, and that in 2004 an unusual amount of vacation days were redeemed. "There was no unusual rise in current wages in that year," the central bank stressed, adding that a new wage agreement that would cancel significant excesses was being prepared by the bank's workers committee and the Wage Supervisor's Office. "We hope that the agreement will be signed soon and, as such, the method for determining wages and benefits in the Bank of Israel will match norms within the public service," the central bank said. Following Bank of Israel staff, a sales and marketing director at ELTA Electronics Industries Ltd. (a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries) came in 15th place, earning NIS 73,798.75 gross monthly, followed by the director-general of Meuhedet health insurance, who earned NIS 73,638.92. Other public servants listed in the top 50 were employed by Maccabi health service, the Israel Industry Development Bank, Oil Refineries Ltd., the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Israel Ports Company and Clalit health service. Within the top 100 public wage earners were found the chairman of the board of the Council for Higher Education and the president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, as well as employees of the Israel Airports Authority, Mifal Hapayis and the Betzalel Art Academy. However, the Bank of Israel still accounted for fully half of the 100 best-paid posts, the three health insurance providers boasted 19 and the Israel Ports Company 13. The highest-paid employee of the Israel Electric Company - who earned NIS 48,480.92 monthly - came in 105th. The report did not include wages of government ministry workers, teachers, doctors and others more directly employed by the state, which will be published next week. Apparent wage excesses - defined as raises of more than 5% - were found in 15% of the bodies included in the 2004 report, down from 62% in the late 1990s. In more than four out of five of such organizations in 2004, there were only one or two apparent wage excesses. "This year, as in previous years, we allowed the budgeted and supported bodies to submit explanations for apparent wage excesses. About 90% responded to this offer, and a significant portion of them had appropriate explanations, and as such are not included among bodies apparently exceeding [wages]. Nonetheless, in many instances the explanations were not accepted, such as bodies who granted their workers illegal bonuses, refunds for vehicle expenses not in accordance with state norms, redemption of vacation days during service, employment with inclusive salaries without a permit and more," the office said. The Wage Supervisor's Office added that some 250 cases were settled in 2005, by which some of those receiving excessive wages had their salaries reduced. In seven years of enforcement, in which 2,200 cases were settled, more than NIS 650 million in public money was saved directly. Taking into account the effect of increased discipline and deterrence caused by enforcement efforts, savings would actually come to more than NIS 1.5 billion, the Wage Supervisor's Office said. "When the law is enforced professionally and in a determined manner, success is guaranteed. On the other hand, when there is not effective enforcement, the result is disdain for the law and its blatant violation, reflected in wage excesses at the expense of the public coffer," the office said, pledging that efforts to strengthen enforcement would "continue for many years to come." Gross wages among non-government public servants rose 2.74% in 2004, due primarily to redundant rehabilitation payments among local authorities and one-time bonuses, the office said. Of the 698 public sector bodies required to provide 2004 wage information for the report, 683 did so. While all local authorities, religious councils, public-sector corporations and supported organizations submitted wage data, 96.9% of government companies; 91.9% of unified cities; and 91.1% of city companies did. Wage costs among the public sector bodies that reported their salaries totalled NIS 41.8 billion, or NIS 31.1b. without employer costs, retroactive payments and severance payments. The sum covered the wages of 276,000 employees working in the equivalent of 229,410 full-time positions. Gross monthly wage among those holding management positions came to NIS 21,665, while other full-time workers took in NIS 10,634 per month.