PM Lee, President: We'll accept salary cut proposals

(UPDATE: Thur 1am, added Grace Fu quotes)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says the government plans to accept the recommendations made by the Ministerial Salary Committee, reported Channel NewsAsia (CNA).

In a letter to the committee head Gerard Ee after he had submitted his team’s report, Lee said his government will publish the report as a White Paper, and will initiate a motion in Parliament to use it as a benchmark for setting salaries for political appointment holders, CNA reported.

The Committee has proposed a 36 per cent pay cut for the Prime Minister, a 51 per cent cut for the President and a 37 per cent cut for entry-grade ministers.

These proposed cuts mean the Prime Minister’s annual salary will be cut to $2.2m from $3.07m, the President's will be down to $1.54m from about $4.3m and junior ministers' salaries will be $1.1m, down from $1.58m last year.

(Read more about their recommendations here, and the committee's full release here. Its report is also available in full here.)

The proposed cuts will be debated over two to three days in Parliament on its 16 January sitting. Parliament will also convene next Monday but will be focusing on questions posed with regard to the recent train breakdowns and floods.

Lee expressed his gratefulness to the salary review committee for taking the time to conduct the review, taking into account fundamental principles and the long-term interests of the country, reported CNA.

President Tony Tan welcomed the recommendations made by the committee, saying in a post on his Facebook page that he has informed the Prime Minister of his plans to backdate his pay to 1 September last year, the day that he took office.

However, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts Grace Fu wrote on her Facebook wall that "if the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for any one considering political office."

Fu, who is also Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, reflected on her experience in joining politics and the sacrifices it entailed back in 2006 .

The current MP for Yuhua wrote that "loss of privacy, public scrutiny on myself and my family and loss of personal time" outweighed monetary considerations at the time.

"The disruption to my career was also an important consideration. I had some ground to believe that my family would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living even though I experienced a drop in my income," she wrote.

But with the recent pay cut proposals, she hinted it would make it harder for qualified candidates to carve out a career in politics.