President, political office holders to take 1 month pay cut: DPM Heng

Heng Swee Keat presenting Budget 2020 in Parliament, 18 Feb. (Source: Screen shot from MOF video)
Heng Swee Keat presenting Budget 2020 in Parliament, 18 Feb. (Source: Screen shot from MOF video)

SINGAPORE — President Halimah Yacob and all political office holders will take a one month pay cut in view of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Friday (28 February).

All Members of Parliament will also take a one month reduction in their allowances.

Meanwhile, senior public officers will take a half-month pay cut.

“The political leadership will do our part to show solidarity with fellow Singaporeans,” said Heng, who is also Minister for Finance.

He made the announcements in his wrap-up speech for the Budget debate on Friday afternoon.

Heng said, “In the weeks and months to come, we will need to draw deeply on Singapore’s reserves of resilience, trust and solidarity. This unity of purpose across our whole society is what will see us through these challenging times.

“And if we conduct ourselves well in this crisis, we will replenish those reserves, and strengthen our resilience and unity for another generation,” he added.

Wages of political office holders benchmarked

The pay components of ministers’ salaries are set out in a 2012 White Paper titled ‘Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government’. An entry-level minister’s annual salary is benchmarked to the median income of the top 1,000 earners who are Singapore citizens, but with a 40 per cent discount “to signify the sacrifice that comes with the ethos of political service”.

The paper recommended an entry-level minister’s salary, including bonuses, for that year to be $1.1 million. The figure comprised 13 months of pay, a three-month performance bonus, a three-month national bonus and a one-month annual variable component.

The prime minister’s pay is set at two times that of an entry-level minister. The president’s salary is pegged to the monthly salary of the prime minister, with a fixed 13th month bonus and the annual variable component. But the president is not eligible for performance bonus and national bonus.

The annual allowance for MPs is about $192,500, including 13 months of pay and the annual variable component, or about $16,000 a month.

Special packages amid economic slowdown

In his Budget speech last Tuesday (18 February), Heng announced two special packages worth a total of $5.6 billion to help support businesses and households amid an economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.

The bulk of the money - $4 billion - will go towards a Stabilisation and Support Package to help workers stay in their jobs and assist companies with their cash flow.

The remaining $1.6 billion will go to a Care and Support Package to help households, with the less well-off getting more help.

Apart from the packages, $800 million has been set aside to support efforts at combatting the coronavirus.

The Government expects an overall budget deficit of $10.9 billion, or 2.1 per cent of GDP, for fiscal 2020. But there will be no draw on past reserves as there is enough fiscal surplus, Heng said.

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