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DPM Teo continues to avoid directly answering how much ministers get paid

Earlier this month, the question of ministerial pay was raised yet again in Parliament.

The Prime Minister was asked if he could list both the components of the salaries of ministers as well as the amounts paid for each component each year from 2013 to 2017. Also, the PM was asked to state the actual amount of the National Bonus paid to Cabinet Ministers as well as the actual Annual Variable Component paid to Cabinet Ministers from 2013 to 2017.

Unfortunately, it seems that DPM Teo Chee Hean, who was answering on behalf of PM Lee, simply skated over the specific figures that were asked for. Instead, he merely repeated what PM Lee had already said in a previous session – referring to the formula based on the white paper released in 2012 about ministerial salaries.

DPM Teo kept repeating that salaries of ministers are transparent but he somehow still avoided specifying the amounts in Singapore Dollars that ministers and cabinet ministers were paid per month in 2013 to 2017.

In a previous TOC article, we noted that DPM Teo had 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.

The 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.

In essence, DPM Teo simply continues on with PM Lee’s strategy of beating around the bush and avoiding providing a direct answer to what is a simple question.

The formulas provided are too general for anyone to even attempt to calculate. DPM Teo’s answers do not outline how a performance bonus is calculated nor does it state how the government determine if a particular minister has achieved enough to earn his entire performance bonus.

While the formula for the national bonus is provided, but not all information is available such as the unemployment rate of Singaporeans. The information provided by the Ministry of Manpower is that of Singaporeans and Permanent Residents.

And yes, while all this information is available in the 2012 white paper, however, it is not exactly written in language that is accessible to all. The 50 page paper is just as confusing as DPM Teo’s answers and does not list out the breakdown salaries that were paid to ministers each year.

Now, if one is asked a specific question – in this case the question is how much does a minister get paid – the answer should be simple enough to provide. Pointing to a formula is not a satisfactory answer, especially when the formula doesn’t outline the specific criteria for each component.
 
If the answer is so transparent, then is it so difficult to point to a clear answer?
 
If I did the math right now using that formula laid out by DPM Teo, my end result could be wildly incorrect. There is no exact answer that can be derived from that formula, merely an estimation that is might be wrong as the statistics may not be what the government is basing the bonuses on.
 
So I’ll ask the question that has already been asked, what were the salaries of ministers and cabinet ministers for the year 2013 – 2017 in Singapore Dollars?