[Update 5 Jan 2012: See our latest post Pay Cut for Prime Minister and Ministers, But Note the Make-Up Pay.]
PM Lee has just appointed a committee chaired by Gerard Ee to review ministerial salaries.
As pointed out in today’s Straits Times (printed edition), the government “does not disclose how much each minister is paid”, but the most current figures released by PSD are for the year 2009, which Salary.sg also covered in a previous article:
- President $3.14m
- Prime Minister $3.04m
- Ministerial Grade MR4 $1.57m – senior Perm Secs also get this amount.
- Entry Superscale Grade SR9 $353,000
- Allowance for Members of Parliament $190,000. Note that almost all MPs hold full-time jobs and some are also directors of companies.
When interviewed, the chair of the Ministerial Salaries Review committee, Gerard Ee, said (emphasis mine):
“Whatever we work out, the final answer must include a substantial discount on comparable salaries in the private sector…” (ST, May 22, 2011)
I have 2 questions: How much is “substantial”? Why compare with only “private sector” and not other comparable countries?
No one mentions benchmarking against other similar countries. Is there a reason?
Highest Paid Civil Servants in the World
Senior Permanent Secretaries in Singapore are given a 7-figure annual pay, probably including the one who is trained in French cuisine. 🙂
In UK, the highest paid civil servant is the head of the Office of Fair Trading. He gets a meagre 280k pounds, which is less than S$600k. If you google for “highest paid civil servants in the world”, you will read about complaints from unhappy people in Canada, Ireland and South Africa when their best remunerated civil servants are paid just a fraction of ours.
The fact is that our best paid civil servants are getting multiple times the amount their foreign counterparts are getting.
I would like to see Singapore’s senior civil servants getting roughly the same remuneration as their counterparts in other countries, not multiple times more. I would also like to see them being held accountable for their work and perhaps be subject to early retirements if they are not up to par.
Highest Paid Political Leaders in the World
To the embarrassment of many Singaporeans, we also have the highest paid political leaders in the world.
According to MSN Money, PM Lee is the world’s highest paid politician, earning “by a staggering margin” more than 5 times what the runner-up Donald Tsang (Hong Kong) takes home.
With PM Lee’s salary alone, we can pay the combined salaries of 8 of the world’s highest paid politicians, including Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy.
With PM Lee’s salary alone, we can also fund all the 10 highest-paid government jobs in the US, including the jobs of Hillary Clinton, Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernanke and again Barack Obama.
Similar to what I said for civil servants, I would also like to see our political leaders be remunerated by roughly the same amount as their foreign counterparts, not multiple times more.
By how much should Singapore’s ministerial salaries be cut?