Don't compare S’pore ministerial pay with other countries: DPM Teo

Chua Yini

Singapore’s ministerial salaries are high but should not be compared with that of other countries, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Monday.

Speaking in Parliament about the recommended pay cuts announced by the Ministerial Salary Review Committee last week, Teo said that Singapore is one of the few countries in the world to adopt a "clean wage" policy that does not attempt to hide any perks or benefits.

“It puts ministers in the open so Singaporeans know what they earn,” he noted, even as he pointed out that the downside of such a policy is that it allows people to make comparisons based only on the cash income of political leaders.

Despite the suggested cuts, Singapore's leaders remain among the highest-paid in the world.

But Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, explained that salaries of foreign office-holders look smaller but exclude such perks or benefits that such leaders enjoy.

He also explained that the option of benchmarking local ministers’ pay to that of foreign leaders was
rejected because salaries at foreign countries may not correlate to Singapore’s situation, and that it was more appropriate to peg ministerial salaries based on local factors.

In his speech, Teo highlighted the three principles used as a guide to set the salary framework. Salaries should be competitive and not deter people, should reflect an ethos of sacrifice and must be a clean wage with no hidden perks.

The committee tasked to review ministerial pay recommended that office-holders receive a pay cut of between 30 and 50 per cent.  A minister’s pay will be cut by 37 per cent to S$1.1 million, while the President’s salary will be reduced by 51 per cent to S$1.54 million.

In addition, the Prime Minister’s pay will be cut 36 per cent, from S$3.07 million to S$2.2 million to annually. In his speech, Mr Teo also added that as of 2007, the Prime Minister has been donating salary increases to charity.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the government would adopt the cuts with effect retroactive to 21 May last year, when the new government was formed.

Meanwhile, in his speech, Teo said that he has asked the Public Service Division to study the relevant principles and how it may be applied to the pay of civil servants.