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A lot about ministerial salary formula said by DPM but nothing about how much exactly the ministers got for their salaries

The question of the Ministerial Salary was brought up again in Parliament yesterday by Member of Parliament for Marsiling-YewTee GRC, Alex Yam Ziming and Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Leon Perera.

Mr Alex had asked if the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong whether he could list all the components of the salaries of the Ministers and state the amounts, in months of salary, paid for each component for each year from 2013 to 2017 while Mr Perera asked the PM could state what has been the actual National Bonus (in months) paid to Cabinet Ministers; and what has been the actual Annual Variable Component (in months) paid to Cabinet Ministers from 2013 to 2017.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean answered questions filed by MPs on PM Lee's behalf in Parliament, repeated the points highlighted in the White Paper on Ministerial Salaries in 2012 and noted how the formula of how the ministerial salaries are derived is transparent.

In his speech, DPM Teo revealed that the range of the pay component over the past five years (2013-2017) as:

Performance bonus: 3.4 - 4.9 months. Average - 4.1 months
National bonus: 3-6 months each year. Average across all political appointment holders over five years - 4.3 months
Annual Variable Component: 0.95 to 1.5 months. Average - 1.3 months.

He confirms that each political appointment holder will only receive one salary and that Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has not received a salary for his appointment since he stepped down.

DPM further passed around sheets of paper which detailed the above information. But as TOC understands, the information in the paper does not detail out the exact bonuses obtained by ministers and other political appointment holders.

14.5 months of bonus for PM Lee?

What DPM Teo did in his speech, was to repeat the same strategy as in the previous reply by PM Lee in his written reply, which is to conflate the whole figures together without providing a precise answer to the question.

Based on the average bonus provided by the DPM, one will still find it impossible to figure out how much exactly does each minister earn, who earned the lowest and who earned the highest.

But based on the national indications, we can assume that the highest performance bonus and national bonus was given out in 2013. So for the highest performing minister that year, he would have earned 13.4 months of bonus. [13th-month bonus (1) + Performance bonus (4.9) + Annual Variable Component (1.5) + National Bonus (6)]

As for PM Lee, given that the maximum national bonus was revealed to be six months between 2013 and 2017, it may very well be possible that he obtained 14.5 months of bonus in 2013. [13th-month bonus (1) + Annual Variable Component (1.5) + National Bonus (12)].

We don't really know how much exactly are the ministers earning now as the $1.1 million basic pay highlighted by DPM Teo in his speech, is based off the sum in 2012.


The calculation of the pay has surely increased far more than what it was back in 2012, given that it is based on the income of the top 1000 earners in Singapore.

In his response, DPM Teo also took the opportunity to drag Workers' Party into the issue by stating that their counter-proposal in 2012 on the ministerial salaries would have been about the same amount as the one proposed by the People's Action Party.

Unfortunately, Workers' Party could not walk away from its poorly thought of proposal and was made to agreed with the ministerial salaries. Also disappointingly, the new Secretary General, Pritam Singh did not have the fire as what late JBJ had and press the DPM for a clear answer on how much are the ministers earning.