Parliament Salaries Debate Contrast
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The discrepancy between Singapore's ministerial salaries, and those of cabinet ministers in the rest of the civilised economies is quite glaring. A Canadian
Minister's salary is approx USD240,000. By stark comparison, Singapore's
million dollar ministerial salaries are a huge national embarassment.
Forum: the Sammyboy's Alfresco Coffee Shop� Forum
Subject: Parliament salaries debate contrast
From: city28 (CITY28)
DateTime: 28/09/2004 12:00:21
Updated: Tue. Sep. 28 2004 7:48 AM ET
Members of Parliament may not be getting a 10-per-cent pay increase after all.
Prime Minister Paul Martin is expected to recommend against such an increase for himself, his cabinet ministers and other MPs, according to a report in The Globe and Mail.
News of the controversial pay hike comes as members of the government's largest union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, conduct rotating strikes. They have been without a contract since Oct. 31, 2003.
In his latest offer to PSAC, Treasury Board President Reg Alcock proposed an increase of approximately two per cent this year.
That stands in stark contrast to his own pay scale, under which he will be taking more than $242,000 by 2007. That amounts to a 57 per cent raise since 2000.
The Prime Minister's salary would increase from $282,000 to $310,000 this year. By 2007, he's expected to make $327,000 a year.
The pay hikes are the result of legislation brought in three years ago by former prime minister Jean Chretien. The legislation tied MPs salary increases to those of federal judges, with wages reviewed every fours years by an independent commission.
Under the most recent recommendation by a judicial commission, MPs' salaries would rise from $141,000 a year to $155,000.
Opposition Leader Stephen Harper said yesterday that any increases to MPs' salaries should be made separate from judges.
Commentary on Ministers pay cut
Singapore Review, 2 May 2003
By Mellanie Hewlitt
The headlines blared loudly in the 2 May 2003 issues of the Straits Times and Business Times "Pay cut? Ministers ready to lead by example: DPM", announcing to the entire world this selfless act of leadership by Singapore's Ruling Elite.
In what appeared to be an initial move to reduce severely inflated salaries, to more reasonable industry standards, Singapore's Ruling Elite have bowed to public pressure and hinted at accepting a pay cut.
Or have they?
What exactly does "Leading By Example" mean? Lets try to put some substance behind those brave words. As of last count, average take home pay of a Singapore minister was well in excess of SGD100,000/- a month.
The below table puts things back in proper perspective: (these are basic figures as of July 2000 and did not include last year's pay hikes or other benefits. Otherwise the updated numbers may well be much larger)
1. Singapore Prime Minister's Basic Salary US$1,100,000 (SGD1,958,000) a year Minister's Basic: US$655,530 to US$819,124 (SGD1,166,844 to SGD1,458,040) a year
2. United States of America President: US$200,000 Vice President: US$181,400 Cabinet Secretaries: US$157,000
3. United Kingdom Prime Minister: US$170,556 Ministers: US$146,299 Senior Civil Servants: US$262,438
4. Australia Prime Minister: US$137,060 Deputy Prime Minister: US$111,439 Treasurer: US$102,682
5. Hong Kong Chief Executive : US$416,615 Top Civil Servant: US$278,538 Financial Sec: US$315,077
Source: Asian Wall Street Journal July 10 2000
In relative terms, less then 20% of Singaporeans here have take home salaries
exceeding SGD100,000/- A YEAR.
In stark contrast, BASIC SALARY FOR A MINISTER STARTS AT SGD1,166,844 A YEAR,OR JUST UNDER SGD100,000 A MONTH.
What these ministers earns in just ONE MONTH exceeds the ANNUAL TAKE HOME
salary of 80% of Singapore's income earning population. Lets not even begin to compare annual packages which will exceed SGD1 million easily.
With the above numbers and figures now in perspective, it is easier to give substance to the words "leading by example". Several facts are noteworthy here;
a) That the ministerial salaries are grossly out of proportion, even when compared with their counterparts in much larger countries (US and UK) who have far heavier responsibilities.
b) That these salary reductions were long overdue. In the past, such handsome remuneration were "justified" on the back of resounding performance. However, Singapore's economy has been in the doldrums of a recession for several years now (with beginnings reaching as far back as the 1997 Asian economic crisis). This economic barometer is a rough measure of performance and implies that ministerial salaries were due for review at least 3-4 years ago.
c) That adjustments should be made to bring them back within the industry benchmarks. Taking the salary of US vice president as a rule of thumb, the percentage for reductions should start at 50% of current pay. Even if a Singapore minister takes a 50% pay-cut, he would still be earning much more then the US vice president.
d) The percentage reductions should greater then 50% if the intent is to bring the salaries within the perspective of Singapore's domestic scene.
With such inflated figures, it is understandable why the local government controlled media (Singapore Press Holdings) have taken pains to exclude mention of actual numbers for the world to see. The numbers would be too glaring and no amount of window dressing or creative writing could have reconciled these numbers with a sane figure and restored credibility.
It is unlikely that Singapore's Ruling Elite will accept such huge salary cuts. Exactly How much and when the ministerial pay-cuts takes effect is not revealed. Ask any man on the street and 9 out of 10 responses indicate many agree the current ministerial salaries are grossly inflated, especially in these lean and difficult times.
Said a long time forumer from an internet political chat group:
"First of all the Ministers are NOT leading on pay cut. Workers' salaries have been drastically reduced since the beginning of the recession while thousands have been unemployed. so the Ministers are NOT LEADING. they are only CATCHING UP. And they have several decades to catch up on."
"Secondly, how much of a pay cut will Ministers take? 10%? 20%? unless its a cut that will affect their lifestyles, it is merely symbolic and they would still not know what it feels like to be a normal worker. as such, this is not Leading by Example. Its just another bogus political propaganda stunt"
A 29 yr old executive who requested to remain anonymous admitted sheepishly ; "The numbers (ministerial salaries) are a national embarrassment really, because it reflects the underlying materialistic value systems of Singapore Ministers. No matter how you look at it, the fact remains that our ministers are money faced, and these are supposed to be Singapore's leaders, with value systems that Singaporeans should follow." "It (the ministerial salaries) puts Singapore in a bad light in the eyes of the world. The rest of Singaporeans really put in an honest days work for every penny they earn. And the process for review and approval of the ministerial salaries is also a joke. Imagine sitting on the board and approving (on White Paper)your own salary increments! Its all a wayang show".
This also raises the question as to the authenticity of the actual process for review and approval of cabinet minister's salaries. Who decides on these numbers? Is there independence and transparency?
Veteran opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2002 challenged Singapore government ministers to take a pay cut to show they understand the economic hardships faced by the public. And the over-riding concern is that Singapore's Ruling Elite are unable to appreciate the economic hardship that the masses face in these tough times.
The growing public resentment comes afew months after PM Goh's careless comments that "lay-offs were not all bad", drew a backlash from the public with a flood of e-mails being sent to the foreign press to register public indignation.
Source Sg_Review group
Singapore Review welcomes honest feedback on this hotly debated topic. You can Send your comments to the editor: sg_Review@yahoogroups.com
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