would you like to work one year and get paid three years' wages? If you
were to suggest that to your employer, your boss would either end up in
a laughing fit (and thereafter throw you out of the building).
yet, this is what the PAP ministers are paying themselves. In 2011,
ministerial salaries ended up with bonus of an incredible 24 months. How
did this come about?
There are two main features of the
ministers' pay: Fixed components and variable components. The latter
category comprises of two major bonuses – the GDP Bonus and the
Performance Bonus which can be up to 14 months.
year before the GE, SDP Assistant Secretary-General John Tan took an
in-depth look at the pay structure of ministers and found that ministers
were paid approximately two years of bonuses (see here).
is a misconception that the GDP measures how rich Singaporeans are and
that an increase in the GDP in any one year indicates that Singaporeans
are better off. This is completely false.
All the GDP measures is
the amount of economic activity that took place in the year. Not all
this activity is healthy for society or benefits the population equally.
For example a company that pays handsome bonuses to its directors while
dishing out painful retrenchment benefits to its workers is increasing
the GDP in both exercises.
In Singapore, the GDP has risen
dramatically because of the gigantic increases in foreign workers
flooding the country. However, the increase has caused the suppression
of wages among Singaporeans. In this scenario. how has the increase in
GDP helped Singaporeans?
By paying themselves a GB, the ministers
can make policy that causes the GDP to go up at the expense of the
people. The immigration is a prime example.
Performance Bonus (PB)
are also paid a bonus based on their "performance”. How such
performance is defined or measured is not publicly stated. The number of
months of PB a minister receives is determined solely by the prime
minister. Worse, it is kept secret.
Are all mnisters at the same
level paid the same numbers of months of PB? Or does the prime minister
have the power to reward different ministers with different amounts of
the bonus. If it is latter, such a form of reward could be open to
abuse. Could a minister who performs terribly still be rewarded
handsomely if the prime minister defines loyalty as a measure of good
Such opacity has no place in the modern,
public-sector world. To ensure transparency and avoid the potential for
abuse, the SDP's paper recommends that such variable bonuses be
abolished and the ministers be paid a fixed salary pegged to the poorest
segment of our society.
Under our recommendation the prime minister would be paid $56,000 per month and a minister $42,000.
are more than fair wages for the ministers and one would think that the
ministers would, if they are genuinely concerned about the people's
anger, accept the SDP's recommendations.
SingaporeThursday, 01 December 2011SingaporeDemocratsPrint