"Appropriately recognizing and rewarding these key contributors and competing with other large, multinational employers to attract and retain fresh talent with critical skill sets is extremely difficult," GM said in a proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, referring to limits set on GM by the Treasury Department.
"We are not able to deliver compensation for critical personnel in a manner that will continue to focus and drive their efforts in alignment with GM's internal business plan for sustained long-term growth," the filing said.
The Detroit News reported Thursday that pay for GM's Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson, was set at $9 million for the year, but that Akerson received $7.7 million due to the timing of some of the stock options he was awarded.
The News also said that Akerson's pay was substantially lower than CEO pay at Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler.
Ford's CEO Alan Mulally earned $29.5 million in total compensation for 2011, including $2 million in salary and $5.46 million in bonus pay.
Mulally's pay was a substantial 11.3 percent higher than his 2010 compensation package.
Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne earned $22 million in 2011, but all of that came from Fiat and Fiat Industrial, a subsidiary. Chrysler, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, did not pay Marchionne at all in 2011, the News said.
The Detroit Free Press reported that GM's highest paid executive for 2011 was Thomas Stephens, who retired as vice chairman and global chief technology officer at the beginning of April 1.
Stephens was paid $8.3 million, in 2011, a 48 percent pay hike from the $5.6 million he received in 2010.