By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the report “Fatter bonus payouts expected this year” (ST, Dec 15).

It states that “Employers are expected to hand out bigger bonus payouts this year… recruitment industry leaders expect this year’s private-sector payouts to be even bigger than last year’s – which were considered among the highest in recent years”.

The bonuses expected range from a low of between 1 to 1.5 months for the Manufacturing sector, to a high of 3 to 8 months for the Oil and gas, offshore marine sector.

So, why is it that ministers’ bonuses appear to be much more in terms of the number of months (average of 9 months performance bonus plus GDP bonus of between 3 to 8 months), than everyone else in the entire population?

I refer to Chua Sheng Yang’s letter “Is it right time to raise top civil servants’ pay” (ST, Dec 15) and the article “Ministers, top civil servants to get 4% to 21% in 2nd pay rise” (ST, Dec 13).

The former letter states that:

“It is a well-publicised fact that life for the average Singaporean is becoming more difficult. With continual inflation, recent increases in the prices of housing, transportation and daily necessities have seen many people struggle to make ends meet.

The Government’s action in giving itself a pat on the back with salary increases, in the face of the plight of low-income Singaporeans, would thus come across as a callous one.”

The latter article states that:

“Singapore ministers and top civil servants will start the New Year with a second round of pay increase, ranging from 4 per cent to 21 per cent. Under the revised salary package announced by the Public Service Division (PSD) on Thursday, ministers at the starting grade will take home $1.94 million next year – an increase of 21 per cent over this year’s $1.6 million. MPs and administrative officers – the elite of the civil service – will see their salaries going up by around 4 per cent.”

Since the increase for civil servants range from 4 to 21%, why is it that ministers who are already paid the most are also getting the highest pay increase in both percentage and quantum terms?

With regards to Minister-in charge of the civil service, Teo Chee Hean’s remarks that:

“actual pay would still be tied to performance. This includes individual performance and how the economy does. … At the senior levels as much as 50 per cent of the annual salary is now performance-based…. For instance, Ministers at the entry grade of MR4 will get an average of nine months performance bonus, on top of the GDP bonus, which can fall between three and eight months, depending on economic growth”,

I would like to ask: including the “average of nine months performance-based bonuses ” and “GDP bonus which can fall between three and eight months “, what is the total average pay of ministers?

If these are included, have they reached or exceeded the 77 per cent of the private sector benchmarks, to which their pay is pegged?

In line with the Government Investment Corporation’s (GIC) statement made in conjunction with its recent $14 billion stake in UBS, that it will set an example for the world, in more disclosure and transparency, is it possible for the break-down of each and every minister’s bonus and the total remuneration for the year to be made known to Singaporeans? In the interest of accountability and transparency, what were the criteria used, and how were the sums derived?

By the way, do the President, Prime Minister, Minister Mentor and Senior Minister get bonuses? If not, why not? Because, then, they may not be as incentivised as the other ministers to out-perform?

As more than 7 months have passed since the Prime Minister’s unprecedented magnanimous gesture 2 days after the ministerial pay increase was moved in Parliament in April, to donate the next 5 years of his pay rise to charity, I understand that to-date, only 2 members of Parliament have followed suit in donating their pay increase.

Will anymore of our ministers and MPs emulate the PM’s fine example, by donating their 2nd pay increase, come 1 January 2008?

Read also: “Annuities for Singaporeans, pensions for ministers?” by Andrew Loh.


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