Factually or half truths to sidestep actual salaries by PM and ministers? Why the lack of transparency?

In a post published on the Factually website, the Singapore government seeks to address two “falsehoods”, one being the Prime Minister gets $4.5 million in annual salary and it is not upfront about how ministerial salaries are calculated.

The post on Factually is correct on both counts to say that the government is upfront with how the ministerial salaries are calculated and that the Prime Minister is not paid $2.2 million as base salary.

In the two review reports (2012 and 2017) on ministerial salaries, the Singapore Government clearly states the amount of salary the Prime Minister and the political appointment holders get annually and how the figures are derived.

As for the PM’s pay, the $2.2 million is a total of 12+7 months of bonuses, (12 months salary, 13th-months bonus, AVC and a six-month national bonus instead of three months as the PM does not get a performance bonus), which works out to be $110,000 per month or $1.43 million a year for his basic annual salary. So it is also right to say that PM Lee doesn’t get $4.5 million a year.

But what the post does not address or trying to sidestep with its half-truths, is the reluctance by the Government or the Prime Minister to reveal the total amount of bonuses received by the ministers.

Non-constituency Member of Parliament, Leon Perera had asked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a written question in September’s Parliamentary sitting:

To ask the Prime Minister in each of the past five years, what has been the bonus paid to Cabinet Ministers in terms of (i) the average total number of bonus months (ii) the highest total number of bonus months paid to an individual Minister and (iii) the lowest total number of bonus months paid to an individual Minister.

In PM Lee’s reply to the NCMP, he merely revealed the average performance bonus received by the political appointment holders over the past five years. Noting that the bonuses are computed with the four components, PM Lee failed to reveal the amount of National Bonuses received by the political appointment holders which then can be used to calculate the total number of bonuses for the past five years.

So to find out the total annual bonuses that the PM and other political appointment holders get, TOC calculated the national bonus based on the KPIs set to determine the bonus months to be paid out.

Based on the calculated figures, we see that the political holders get at least 10 months of bonus on top of their annual salary for the past five years. And note that the Performance bonus is an average so some may get more. 

As for the Prime Minister, as he is not paid performance bonus but instead given a maximum of 12 months instead of 6 months of National bonus, this means he would get 13 months of bonus in 2017 instead of 11.85 months like the other ministers and political appointment holders.

Which translate to PM Lee getting about 2.75 million in 2017 (25 months) and 2.83 million in 2013 (25.75). (Note that the basic pay has increased due to adjustment with the top 1000 earners)

But as much as the PM may be reluctant to share who is being paid the highest amount of bonus, we ought to have complete transparency in the matter and full disclosure, as salaries of the Cabinet are being borne out of public monies.

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