Salary benchmark for ministers


[Update 5 Jan 2012: See our latest post Pay Cut for Prime Minister and Ministers, But Note the Make-Up Pay.]

The Straits Times released some interesting income figures today.

As you may know, the income benchmark for ministers and top civil servants is pegged at 2/3 the median income of all the top 8 earners in these 6 professions: lawyer, accountant, banker, MNC executive, local manufacturer and engineer. These means that we take the 48 top earners (top 8 from 6 groups), sort them according to their income, take the middle guy’s income, and multiply it by 2/3.

Now, the interesting bit is in how much the top earners make. We have these figures from today’s Straits Times:

  • Lawyer – $4.29 million
  • Accountant – $3.72 million
  • Banker – $3.33 million
  • MNC executive – $2.70 million
  • Local Manufacturer – $2.30 million
  • Engineer – $0.62 million

The figure given for each profession is the median income of the top 8 earners in that profession. It is equivalent to the average of the top 4th and top 5th earnings.

And yes, the engineer profession has the lowest income. The top engineers make only about a quarter of the next better profession (local manufacturer).

Poor engineers.

Delving deeper, Straits Times also mentioned the income ranges of the top earners:

  • Lawyer – $1 million to $6 million
  • Accountant – $1 million to $6 million
  • Banker – $800k to $6 million
  • MNC – $300k to $4 million
  • Local Manufacturer – $250k to $3 million
  • Engineer -$200k to $800k

Now, is this better or worse? The no. 1 engineer can’t even match the 8th accountant and 8th lawyer! He is making only what the poorest benchmarked banker is making.

This is a sad day for all engineers.


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  4. so what makes the Govt think that top civil servant deserve to be protected by benchmarking their salaries to the top earners? those brilliant civil servants may earn high salaries but may not be among the top earners if they were not in Govt. They may turn out to be top engineers then they will be earning much less right?

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  7. Top professionals like lawyers charge $600 to $1000 per hour but I understand that they make multi-million dollar salaries based on leading a team of junior staff and using them for major cases. The mark up on such staff is huge – the hourly salary of such staff may be $40 per hour but their work may be billed at 5-10 times this rate to the client.

  8. The reason why Lawyers, Accountants are the top earners is that these are the rainmakers who bring clients and new deal flow to the firms. This way, they (law partners, auditing partners) earn a cut of the revenues they bring in. Of course lawyers charge a leg and a foot for their service. Auditors generate their massive revenue by volume (since not everyone needs a lawyer but everyone certainly needs an auditor annually).

  9. The problem with people in the Government is that they are normally academics or government scholars (PSC, President’s) who are earmarked for leadership roles in the Government. These people lack the private practice experience to be in the Government in my opinion.

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  12. do you all notice that most of our ministers
    are ENGINEER by training ?? wah, not bad lah for
    career swithch to be politicans !!
    my daughter just started worked as a lawyer,
    she gets home the earliest is 10.30pm. Her usual
    time is 12.00 mid night or past 3.00am .
    I have watched hundreds of Korean drama while waiting for her to come home since jan 2011.
    come on, how can they compare lawyers, bankers etc..Do they work past mid night every day ?
    The Wee family of UOB takes 50 yrs of 3 generations
    to build UOB going through world war 2 and crisis
    after crisis, pls don’t think we are idots !!

    After GE2011’result,our PM should really seriously
    thinking of cutting the expensive Mahogeny Cabinet
    and reduced to plywood instead. Take a referendum
    and see whether singaporeans agree with their high
    salaries ?!

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