The National Solidarity Party (NSP) issued a statement in response to the recent debate on the Budget, calling for the government to bring greater parity to ministerial salaries, and to clarify on assertions made by Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Chia Yong Yong that suggest Singaporeans’ pension funds do not belong to them.
NSP’s secretary-general Tan Lam Siong noted that comments made by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Josephine Teo, that “service to the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents”, had “riled the public and whipped up a public discourse on why Ministers are treated differently when they are also performing a kind of national service.”
“Although NSmen’s contributions are deemed not be measurable in monetary value, ministers’ salaries are on the other hand, measured in dollars and cents and against the highest earned incomes in the land,” wrote Mr Tan.
He noted that while the government has taken steps to addressed this by commissioning a committee to review ministerial pay, the pay difference between Ministers and NSmen – both rightfully serving the nation – is still a long way from assuring citizens, as “it continues to constantly diminish the government leaders’ moral authority in the eyes of the public whenever frustrations set in. It has happened again with the suggestion for NSmen to be paid more.”
“NSP urges the government to consider de-linking the salaries of ministers from the earned income of our top income earners. NSP proposes that ministerial salaries should take reference from the salary scales of political appointees of a “basket” of countries, taking into account similarities and discounting for differences.
By delinking ministerial salaries from the earned income of our top income earners, the remuneration of ministers will no longer be a thorn in the flesh and the government will be able to regain much of its moral authority.”
NSP also took issue with the suggestions that developed from NMP Chia’s speech in Parliament that the money in Singaporeans’ Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, Singapore’s government-managed retirement scheme, do not belong to them, as the government ensures the growth of the monies and occasionally makes top-ups to the fund.
Mr Tan noted that “these top-ups, including those perceived to be “election goodies”, belong to the members once they are deposited into their CPF accounts. Any suggestion to the contrary would mean that these top-ups can be recovered by the government at any time and that is clearly not the case.”
“NSP understands that the greater concern of the people is the government’s subsequent open and unqualified acceptance of the speech made by NMP Chia. In particular, there is the worry that her suggestion may eventually become the official line and soon members will no longer own the monies in their CPF accounts.
There is therefore a clear need for the government to provide an immediate clarification to reassure all CPF members before further public discourse on the subject degenerates into an unpleasant speculation on the CPF scheme’s future direction.”
NSP also advised that “NMPs should not attempt to address broad national issues if they are not equipped with an understanding and working knowledge of the issues and concerns of our people”, as this would “hurt the emotional well-being of our people and lead to resentment and more ridicule for the NMP scheme.”