Mr Gerard Ee has indicated that the Government-appointed eight-person commission which he chairs to review ministerial salaries will be submitting its report to PM Lee Hsien Loong tomorrow, 30 Dec 11.
The Singapore Democrats look forward to a comprehensive revision of not just the amounts of money that ministers are paid, which most Singaporeans consider way too much, but also the formula by which the salaries are determined.
In our paper Ethical Salaries For A Public Centred Government which was launched in November 2011, the SDP recommended that ministerial salaries be pegged at 30 times the mean wage of the lowest 20 percent of wage earners in Singapore and the PM’s salary at 40 times. This will make the PM’s pay $56,000 per month, a cut of about 88 percent of the current amount.
The SDP also proposed that the variable bonuses in the current pay formula be removed. This is because included in the variable bonuses is an item called Performance Bonus which allows the minister to be paid up to 14 months of his/her basic salary. Worse, the amount is determined solely by the PM and not made public. Such a practice runs counter to every tenet of good and transparent governance.
Ministerial salaries in democratic countries are made public as a matter-of-course. For example, information about US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pay is readily available (US$186,000 per year). In contrast Singaporeans have no idea what PAP ministers are paid because of the Performance Bonus.
This is especially important because the perfomance of some of the cabinet ministers have been dismal in recent years. The woeful MRT system and its lack of security, the on-going flood problem, the continued unaffordability of HDB flats are just some of the many examples of the ineptness of the curent crop of PAP ministers. And yet we have no clue as to how they are rewarded.
Other proposals that we have made in our review are:
- Establish an independent salary commission to determine ministerial remuneration for each financial year. Such a commission shall compile and publish annually the salaries of ministers, along with their other commercial interests.
- Provide ministers with allowances for expenses incurred while performing their official duties. The claims should be published to ensure transparency and accountability.
- Move the Corrupt Practices Investigation Board (CPIB) out of the Prime Minister’s Office and empower it to investigate all ministers without needing the approval of the President of Singapore.
The SDP looks forward to a reasoned and reasonable set of proposals from the Gerard Ee commission that will adequately address the issues and problems concerning ministerai salaries.