Pay Cut for Prime Minister and Ministers, But Note the Make-Up Pay


PM Lee will get a 36% salary cut and receive an annual pay of $2.2m without pension, down from the previous pay package of $3.07m + pension. This is the recommendation given in the Committee to Review Ministerial Salaries Report. The ministerial pay review took more than 7 months to complete.

PM Lee’s new base monthly salary will be $110,000, which is what President Tony Tan will receive monthly as well.

But President Tan will only get 14 months total per year (12 months base + 13th month bonus + Annual Variable Component), without any Performance Bonus or National Bonus. This gives a total of $1.54m for President Tan.

The annual salary for ministers will use this formula: Fixed pay (13 months) + up to 1.5 months AVC + up to 6 months’ PB + up to 6 months’ National Bonus.

A junior minister at the MR4 grade will get a minimum of $715k and a maximum of $1.46m in a year. His “reference” monthly salary will be $55k.

As the top political appointee, PM Lee will not get any individual Performance Bonus, but in lieu of that, he will be paid a larger National Bonus.

The National Bonus will be derived based on 4 indicators: real median income growth rate, real growth rate of the lowest quintile income, unemployment rate and real GDP growth rate.

The report also mentions MSO medical benefits and a car benefit (only for the President), but these are absolutely insignificant in relation to the huge pay packages. For example, what they get from MSO in a year ($1,190) is even less than what they earn in a day from their base pay!

The archaic pension scheme will also be discontinued.

Members of Parliament, most of whom hold full-time jobs elsewhere, will get their part-time allowance of $192,500 a year. This is $16,041 a month for a part-time appointment, already more than what many graduate couples can ever earn working full-time.

Make-Up Pay

There’s an interesting paragraph in the report (¶90) on matching a new minister’s previous salaries:

“… propose retaining the current make-up pay system which was introduced in Parliament in 1989 but has not been used so far. Under this system, the Prime Minister can offer a candidate make-up pay for up to 90% of the difference between the pay of the appointment and the candidate’s average pay in the last three years prior to the appointment. However, we propose that this be for up to one term in office only, as compared to the current provision of up to two terms. After this, the person will be paid according to his salary grade.” (boldface mine)

This means that if someone of Ng Eng Hen’s calibre comes along, gets voted in (possibly as member of a GRC) and appointed by PM as a new minister, he can continue to earn close to his last-drawn salary for about 5 to 6 years in his first term in political office. Ng Eng Hen once said he earned 5 times more in the private sector (Channelnewsasia, 9 September 2003).

This make-up pay makes it easier for someone to consider political office, certainly easier than what Grace Fu made it out to be. She said in her facebook:

“I had some ground to believe that my family would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living even though I experienced a drop in my income. So it is with this recent pay cut. If the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for any one considering political office.” (boldface mine)

Let’s not forget that as a junior minister in Singapore, Grace Fu is already earning – even after her pay cut – about twice the salary of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang. And Tsang was ranked the world’s 2nd highest paid politician by MSN Money. Alas, they forgot to include our junior ministers in their ranking. How careless of them!



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  1. Is there any way to find out the range of the top 1000 earners ? say what is the absolute wage amount at the 1000th mark?

  2. Pingback: Ministerial Pay Review | - Your Salary in Singapore

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  4. In an excellent letter to ST today (page A45), someone asked the government to let the public know how many past and present ministers have indeed suffered pay cuts. He would like the info for the past 20 to 30 years published.

    I would want to know further: how many past and present MPs earn more in their full-time jobs than what they collect in allowance as part-time MPs.


  5. There are lots of red herrings around. Dont be confused.

    Things were already wrong in the first place.

    in the first place, do you see the ministers justify the previous high pay they get? Does pay (or for that matter, academic qualifications)equate to competence ? Think MBT, WKS, etc.

  6. Singapore is embedded in a posiition different from HongKong.

    GDP, population, resources, corruption, geopolitical situation and many more.

    Makes little sense to compare Fuji apples with China apples.

    I do not buy any story from any side. I look at things in all perspectives- not only from a biased economic point of view.

  7. Ex-president Nathan is supposed to pay back his extra-high salary he got while waiting 7 months for the salary report. What happened now? All keep quiet! What a disgrace!

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