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(Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

Is the annual pay gap between junior Ministers and junior civil servants as much as 67 times?  

I refer to the article “Civil servants to get half-month mid-year bonus, one-off payments of $300 to $500″ (Straits Times, Jun 20).

It states that “The last time civil servants got a one-off payment was in 2015, when each of them received $500 to mark Singapore’s 50th birthday. About 1,450 civil servants in Grades IV and V of the Operations Support Scheme will get the higher one-off payment of $500. These officers typically provide basic office administrative support functions.”

As to “On top of annual increments, the 540 or so Grade V officers, who earn $1,250 to $1,581 a month, will get a built-in wage increase of $20 in their monthly salary” – does it mean that after the typical 20 per cent employee’s CPF contribution – the take-home pay of civil servants may be as low as $1,008 ($1,250 less 20%)?

Isn’t this rather low?

With regard to “The other 60,000 or so employees in the public sector could receive the same payment, as statutory boards and other government agencies typically take their cue from the civil service” – how many in total are there of such low-salary civil servants in the entire public sector?

In respect of “The above mid-year payments signal the Government’s continued commitment to support our lower-wage civil servants,” said the PSD” – there has been a great deal of rhetoric and debate recently, about “inequality” in Singapore.

So, in this connection, is it fair for the gap between our Ministers’ pay to lower-income public servants, to be the highest in the world?

Increased 12 times only?

As we understand that a Division IV officer’s salary in 1973 was about $100 plus – does it mean that their salary only increased by about 12 times in the last 45 years?

Minister’s pay in 1973 – $32,500, Increased 34 times?

For those readers who may have an interest in the history of Ministerial pay in Singapore – In 1973, a Minister’s annual salary was about $58,500 ( monthly salary of $4,500 x 13 months assuming 1 month’s bonus). (see the document below dated 20 March 1973)

Fast forward to now, an entry grade MR4 Minister’s pay is an average of $1,100,000 (2017 White Paper*).

Please note that the Ministers' “Annual Salaries are based on the assumption of an AVC of 1 month, good individual performance and targets for the National Bonus indicators being met. The annual salaries comprise fixed pay of 13 months (monthly salary and 13th month bonus) and variable pay of 7 months (1 month AVC, 3 months Performance Bonus and 3 months National Bonus)”. As for the Prime Minister, he gets 6 months National Bonus instead of three.

Is there any country in the world whereby a junior Minister’s (MR4) pay a day – at an average of $3,013 ($1,100,000 divided by 365 days) – is 2.4 times that of a junior civil servant’s monthly pay ($1,250)? For a MR1 Minister, it may be an average of more than 3.8 times ($1,760,000 divided by 365 divided by $1,250) more.

If we divide a MR4 Minister’s starting annual salary of $1,100,000 by a junior civil servant’s starting annual salary of $16,250 ($1,250 x 13 months) – does it mean that the ratio of a Minister to civil servant’s salary may be about 67 times ($1,100,000 divided by $16,250)?

And for the Prime Minister, about 135 times more than a junior civil servant's annual salary. In comparison, Canada's Prime Minister earns S$347,400 per year and a garbage collector in the public sector earns S$49,400 per year, making the PM pay just 7 times more than what a junior civil servant earns.

Dear readers – did you or do you know of any Singaporeans who were working in the 1970s – who had their pay increased by about 34 times?

Perhaps like in The Animal Farm – some animals may be (much) more equal than others!

*While the review committee submitted a proposal to increase the annual salaries in 2017, the government declared that the ministerial salaries and their guiding framework will remain unchanged and it will review the matter again after five years or when it becomes necessary.