Friday, January 13, 2012

Ministerial (MR4) Salaries: Bonuses seem a given


In a statement released by the committee tasked to review ministerial and political salaries, it was announced that there is a misconception on the starting salaries for entry-grade Ministers at MR4 level. According to the statement, the entry-grade salaries for these Ministers at $1.1 million include a 7 months bonus which comprise a 13th month bonus, a 3 month performance bonus and a 3 month National bonus. From what can be inferred from the announcement, this $1.1 million salary is hence a salary for a total of 19 months. Using simple mathematics, we will arrive at the monthly pay of the MR4 ministers at $57,897.74.
No doubt, Gerard’s committee has shed more light on the details of the MR4 salaries and with the monthly pay of MR4 ministers now at $57,894.74 which seems more reasonable and in line with what many Singaporeans including me believe to more reasonable for MR4 ministers, the fact is that the MR4 ministers still draw $1.1 million per year which still is quite astronomical to many Singaporeans including me who draw a much lower annual pay.
I am really not comfortable with the composition of MR4 salaries as according to the statement released by Gerard’s committee yesterday, bonuses seem a given to MR4 ministers: and a total of 7 months bonuses! I find that the committee’s recommendation seems to discredit the very notion of bonuses. Look, bonuses should be given to good performers. When a MR4 minister gets 7 months bonuses automatically every year, whether or not he performs good or not good, what is the use of the bonuses? Gerard’s committee seems to suggest a MR4 minister will get the full 7 months bonus automatically every year regardless he does a good job or not. Hence I believe there will be no longer any incentive to reward good work for Ministers. Will a Minister who does a better work say Khaw Boon Wan get the same pay as a Minister who is not as good? With the automatic 7 months bonus to all MR4 ministers lead to complacency among MR4 ministers who will get 7 months bonuses regardless of their work. Will we see more flooding, more MRT breakdowns, more overcrowded jams, more foreigner influx, more expensive houses, more landscape changes of our traditional and cultural places?
I believe it is good for the committee to give more insights to the public on the ministerial and political salaries. However, the statement released by the committee did not explain whether the recommended pay package for President, Senior Parliament Secretaries, Parliament Secretaries, Speaker and Members of Parliaments also include the aforementioned bonuses; hence I hope that the public will be given more details on these pay packages.
Also, I would like to know whether Deputy Speakers will also be given remuneration in addition to the pays these deputy speakers receive as a member of parliament. With this new parliament, there are now two deputy speakers: Charles Chong and Seah Kian Peng instead of one in the previous parliament. The remuneration report on salaries for  political appointment holders released by the committee headed by Gerard Ee seems not very clear on this issue.
I applaud Gerard for taking time to lead and chair a committee to derive a pay for our ministers and members of parliament. But I feel that the misconception by the public, as his committee alleges has to do with a lack of details given by Gerard’s committee.

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