The chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority received a pay rise of 4.1 per cent last year, giving him a total take-home annual salary of HK$9.41 million.
While Norman Chan Tak-lam's basic salary remained at HK$6 million, the raise mainly came in the form of a 20 per cent increase in variable pay, an amount that depends on individual performance and is equivalent to a bonus at private firms.
The variable pay component of his package, which amounted to HK$2.45 million, represented 4.9 months' salary for Chan. In contrast, the average variable pay for HKMA staff last year amounted to 2.7 months' salary.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority recently announced a 4.5 per cent rise in basic salary for staff this year.
With last year's raise, Chan's pay is more than six times that of the chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, who makes US$199,700 (HK$1.55 million). But it is still less than his predecessor Joseph Yam Chi-kwong's HK$10.9 million in 2009 and the HK$16.92 million - including bonus - given to the chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, Charles Li Xiaojia, last year.
Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, the legislator for financial services, said Chan's pay rise was "acceptable" as "the market was quite volatile last year but the Exchange Fund's performance was not bad under the authority's management".
The Exchange Fund reported investment earnings of HK$108.6 billion last year, the best since 2007, with an overall investment return of 4.4 per cent. The authority started investing in new asset classes in 2008. The aggregate market value of these investments rose to HK$148.9 billion at the end of last year, from HK$83.6 billion the year before.
Among those investments, emerging-market bonds and yuan assets returned 8 per cent while private equity and property generated a 10 per cent return. The authority said it could invest HK$63.8 billion more into these assets. It will post the details of the Exchange Fund's first-quarter performance on May 6.
Hong Kong banks' loans grew 12.4 per cent on an annualised basis in the first quarter, the HKMA said. The faster credit growth was due to greater trade financing and loans issued for use outside Hong Kong, it said. That led the Hong Kong dollar loan-deposit ratio to increase slightly to 81 per cent at the end of March.
After the government rolled out fresh measures to cool the property market in February, the average loan-value ratio declined to 54 per cent. Mortgage loans drawn down jumped 52 per cent to HK$18.6 billion in March from the previous month while mortgage loans approved grew 16.1 per cent to HK$21.6 billion. The number of applications increased 14.2 per cent to 10,291.