If you hear someone say that civil servants don’t earn a lot when compared to the private sector, tell him he’s not entirely correct.
Ask him whether he knows about the elite Administrative Service.
Chances are he’ll look puzzled, or even start wondering if the service is about doing mundane clerical administrative work.
The truth. You can find some of the highest earners in the Administrative Service.
No, I’m not talking about cabinet ministers. They hold political appointments and are not actually part of the Civil Service (though their pay is quite astounding too, but that’s another topic).
In the Administrative Service, you’ll find specialists and policy makers who are groomed to lead government agencies. The super high flyers move on to become CEOs of statutory boards, and Deputy Secretaries and Permanent Secretaries of government ministries.
They are the de facto leaders in the Civil Service. The elites.
After retirement, some of them move on to lead big GLCs, e.g. former Head of Civil Service Lee Ek Tieng is a director of SPH.
High earners. You can be sure that officers in the Administrative Service are paid well. In fact, very well.
According to a recent speech by Minister In-Charge of Civil Service Mr Teo Chee Hean, officers at the lowest “superscale” salary grade (SR9) are set to receive a total of $372,000 to $384,000 this year.
Some of these officers are only in their early 30s, I reckon.
Salaries for those at the MR4 level – these are typically senior Permanent Secretaries – are set at $1.6 million.
Are these salaries comparable to those in investment banking, the industry that pays astronomical compensation? You bet.
Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew even name dropped a couple of big investment banks when he said this:
“So for the average family earning S$1,500-S$3,000, we are talking of astronomical figures but for people like me in government, to deal with the money which we have accumulated by the sweat of our brow over the last 40 years, you have to pay the market rate or the man will up stakes and join Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers or Goldman Sachs and you would have an incompetent man and you would have lost money by the billions.”