Salary cuts for Singapore ministers

Singapore: Singapore`s politicians, the highest paid in the world, will soon see their unpopular multi-million dollar salary packages cut by at least a third, but in spite of that they would remain as top paid globally. To add to the woes of the politicians, the cut would be backdated to May 21, 2011, when the new government took office.

The cuts were promised by new Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to appease public anger after a landmark election in 2011, though the city state has been little impacted by the global downturn. But the public anger has been on the boil as the income gap between the rich and poor Singaporeans has been widening in recent years.

The sharp slashes recommended by government-appointed panel will see the Prime Minister himself taking a 36 per cent cut in salary to still peg his perks at USD 1.69 million (SGD 2.2 million). But it is still believed to be the highest salary of any elected head of government in the world – more than four times as much as Barack Obama who gets USD 400,000 a year as President of United States.

The President`s annual salary is to be reduced by 51 per cent, to SGD 1.54 million, said the Review Committee chairman Gerard Ee while disclosing details of the recommendation at a press conference today.

The Singapore President holds a ceremonial post but with specific powers to veto government decisions on spending of monetary reserves, while the Prime Minister holds the powerful executive position leading the government.

The Speaker of the Parliament would will see the biggest salary cut of 53 per cent, to SGD 550,000, according to a Channel News Asia. The ministers` annual salaries would be cut by 37 per cent, to SGD 1.1 million, as per recommendations of the committee.

The Committee to review the politicians` salaries was appointed after the May 2011 general election as opposition made it one of the major issues. It has also recommended changes to bonus payments, pensions and benefits under the new pay structure.

Elaborating on the recommendations, Ee said the salary must be a "clean wage" with no hidden perks. The salaries would be pegged to the median income of the top 1,000 earners who are Singapore citizens, and would be delinked from the previous pegging to the median income of the top 48 earners in Singapore, with a one-third discount.

The report recommending the new salary structure was submitted to the Prime Minister on December 30. It would be debated in Parliament on January 16, according to the CNA report.